Community rallies for father facing fight for his life
WHEN his best mate faced the fight of his life, Grant Windle refused to stand on the sidelines.
Warwick family man and longstanding manager of the Condamine Sports Club Nathan 'Bully' Bell was diagnosed with a rare form of genetic lung cancer in March, after struggling for five frustrating months with a mysterious shoulder pain.
Grant had grown up alongside Nathan, and the two formed a close friendship after playing hockey together.
"We just really clicked," Grant said.
"Nathan and his family have always been good to me, and there's certainly times I've needed a hand with things.
"Their support has been unwavering."
Grant listened as Nathan talked about his left shoulder, confused as to where the pain could come from. Nathan was a right-handed hockey player, so a sports injury was ruled out. He was prescribed medication, but nothing seemed to help.
There was test, after test, after test.
"(The doctors) didn't know how to approach it, or how to treat it," Nathan said.
"My body was full of painkillers, and because of that I felt so tired, and the pain was excruciating."
Finally, after trips to Toowoomba and Brisbane, an x-ray revealed a shadow on Nathan's lung, about 9cm long.
The news came as a surprise blow to Nathan, his family, and his friends.
Daughter Sakara Bell lives across the world in England, and has been feverishly researching treatments ever since.
"It's been absolutely heartbreaking," she said.
"It's been really tough (being) without my family, especially my dad, who is my best friend."
The x-ray showed two separate cancerous masses that had joined together, 5 per cent of which was aggressive, 95 per cent of which was not.
"I'm focusing on that 95 per cent," Nathan said.
Along with the diagnosis came an in-depth treatment plan that involves time off work and long trips to the hospital in Toowoomba.
For a time, Grant felt helpless. He wanted to help his friend, but he had no idea how.
"I realised there'd be a lot of hidden expenses involved, so I told him I wanted to do a GoFundMe," Grant said.
"That was one thing I could do, but Nathan is very humble, so it took some time for him to come around to the idea.
"It is hard to ask for help. Sometimes it's just easier for someone to do it on your behalf."
Once Grant got the go-ahead, the GoFundMe took off, fast spreading throughout the Warwick community and raising thousands of dollars.
"It has been unbelievable," Grant said.
"It says a lot about the Warwick community. No one is in a great position at the moment, with the coronavirus and work, but people just haven't hesitated.
"People in Warwick are selfless, they care, and when times are tough everyone throws their differences aside.
"It's amazing to see."
At time of publication, the fund had raised $6950 of its $10,000 goal, and Grant hopes it will go a long way to helping support the Bell family through the tough times ahead.
Any funds that exceed the needs of the family will be donated to cancer research, as Nathan seeks to share the support around.
"When I'm sitting in the waiting room (of the hospital), I see 30 or 40 people lining up for the same treatment," Nathan said.
"It's a real eye-opener, it's really sad, but the staff are so amazing, they're there right around the clock.
"I wish the money can go towards finding a cure, something you could just go through and it could zap the cancer straight out of you."
In the meantime, as he fronts up to face the battle against cancer, Nathan feels thankful for the "flabbergasting" amount of community support.
"I"m very positive," he said.
"I'm only young, I have my whole family looking out for me, and my first grandchild due in October.
"I'm determined to beat it."