JUST a month ago Brisbane's Ben Dwyer was the quintessential Queensland tradie.
Strong as an ox, working 12 hours a day in searing heat, loved a beer with his mates and in his mind - bulletproof.
Today Ben's story looks very different.
Out of the blue at 32, the mechanical fitter has been diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer that has spread to his liver and lymph nodes. While bowel cancer is most prevalent later in life, in Queensland an average of 32 men aged 30-39 are diagnosed each year.
"I had no symptoms and was working as usual. In mid December I had a bout of gastro and went to the doctor, just days later an oncologist delivered the news that just blew me away," Ben told The Courier-Mail.
"I was thrown into a medical whirlwind where within days I had half a metre of bowel removed along with an 8cm tumour. The next step is six months of chemotherapy every 12 days."
The self-employed tradie says he was aware of colonoscopies but thought he was too young to be at risk. He knows of no family history of bowel cancer.
"Since this has happened I'm pleased that it has made my tradie mates think twice about their health. I hope my story sparks other young men to follow up on any hints of illness," he said.
Ben has a strong support network with his girlfriend Chantelle Jukic, his mum, sister Terri and mates fighting with him every step of the way. His burly frame has lost almost 20kg in a month but he vows to give everything he's got to stay alive.
Ben's mum Ann suffers from secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. She is currently in care at Youngcare and the cost of her ongoing treatment and medical bills has also hampered Ben's financial position.
As Ben is self-employed and unable to work anyone who wishes to help him out should go to https://www.gofundme.com/4xhcvtk
Sister Terri Lockwood is organising a trivia night in late February to bring in funds. Details will be posted on the gofundme page.