Movember is a time of year where facial hair is utilised to raise awareness of men’s health, but not usually quite like this.
Joel Oliver, a beard-toting Apprentice Pastor, is holding his bristles hostage to raise money to help battle his mate’s brain tumour.
“I met a guy named Tom Scrivens who was diagnosed almost two years ago, I think, with brain cancer. Serious brain cancer. I can’t pronounce exactly what kind it is but it’s definitely full on.” says Joel.
“In that time, he’s had a couple of procedures, one major operation to remove the tumour but another one has started growing in the centre of his brain so [it’s] not altogether amazing.”
Despite the bleak prospects, 21-year-old Tom is doing what he can to stay positive. While still undergoing oral chemotherapy last month, he managed to find time to marry his girlfriend Jess. His enhanced focus and positivity initially baffled Joel, who immediately wanted to do what he could to help.
“Often, we suck. Human beings are pretty awful a lot of the time.” Joel says. “Whether we’re just obsessing over ourselves or whether we can’t see how lucky we are or how blessed we are or whatever but often, the only way we see these kind of things is when tragedy strikes.”
When trying to figure out how he could spread enough awareness to raise a decent amount, Joel found the answer in the mirror. With more than a year’s growth, he had a substantial beard and set up a donate-to-vote system on whether to get it shaved or styled. The reaction, he says, so far is good but they need much more before the November 30 deadline rolls around.
“The more money we raise, the better options he’s got in terms of what treatment he receives.…So whether it’s just continuing normal chemotherapy or whether they go for something bigger or better… And it’s not just about the surgery, we want to make sure that we can help provide a life for him and his wife.” he said.
Joel isn’t there yet, but with 62-13 on the board in favour of shaving, it’s not looking good for the chin-blanket he’s spent so long cultivating. It’s impossible to tell what’s on the cards for Tom, but with a mood that can’t be faltered, the support of a friend almost literally putting his neck on the line and the love of a new marriage, all that he still needs is the money to help ensure he has the best fighting chance against the tumour that’s growing in the centre of his brain.
“…no one would blame anyone for feeling horrible and being depressed and struggling to deal with something like this. But he’s managed to have a really positive attitude about it and that’s been really inspiring. Really, really inspiring. It’s hard to be heart-wrenched because he’s so damn happy.”
You can help battle Tom’s brain cancer by donating here and voting on the Facebook event here. Joel will be making the call on the fate of the beard on November 30.