As is the case with anyone going through a serious health battle, Justin Toomey-White admits there has been some dark days during the past three months.
But on the eve of a gala fundraiser designed to assist he and his family at this time, the leading rugby league player has thanked the “overwhelming” amount of support which has kept him incredibly positive.
Toomey-White has recently finished a round of chemotherapy and radiation after being diagnosed with bowel cancer in early September but surgery in January and six more months of treatment still awaits.
“My wife Kate and I, we’ve had tears in our eyes seeing all this amazing support,” he said.
“The support and the amount of people we have in our lives who are willing to help in the tough times just puts me in the right mind-frame to be positive and look at this challenge ahead of me the right way.”
Such was the outpouring of support for the Wellington Cowboys star, tickets for the Justin’s Gala Night fundraiser were sold out within hours of going on sale.
That forced the fundraiser to be moved from Wellington to the larger Dubbo RSL, with the huge crowd expected to take part in a bumper auction and many other events to help out one of the best players in the western region.
“It’s going to be overwhelming seeing everyone there,” Toomey-White said.
“People are travelling from far and wide and we’ve got family and friends staying with us. It’s going to be really good to catch up with everyone.”
Toomey-White’s recent experience has been the latest example of the rugby league community banding together and the former Wyong Roo said people who hasn’t spoken to in years and former junior teammates have reached out.
The Wellington community has been particularly inspiring and strong but the most support has come from Toomey-White’s wife and three-month old son, Boston.
“We have our (bad) days but then our little bub just smiles,” he said.
“He’s a blessing and when we’re having those days it’s just like he knows. He gives us a smile and we just know we’re alive and we’ve got our little family together. That’s what it’s all about.
“I’ve always been about family first and no words can describe what it’s like being a dad and going through all this.
“And my beautiful wife Kate, it’s amazing how strong that woman is. It’s indescribable.”
Toomey-White’s own strength and positivity is amazing people as well, especially through his role as co-coach of the Cowboys.
Toomey-White has taken on the role alongside the returning Aidan Ryan, with a number of pre-season sessions already being held.
The reigning Group 11 Player of the Year isn’t ruling out a return to the playing field in 2019 but for now he’s “taking it one day at a time” and putting a focus on his health.
“I’d love to but with my health … every day is different but I’m being positive and you don’t know,” he said.
“But we’ve started pre-season and we’re getting good numbers across the grades.
“Everyone is looking forward to it and it will be an exciting season but there’s a lot of work we’ve got to put in.”
Justin’s Gala Night starts from 5.30pm at the Dubbo RSL on Saturday night.