POPULAR Warrnambool jumps jockey Braidon Small is about to embark on the race of his life.
He will put his faith in the hands of leading neurosurgeon Associate Professor Martin Hunn for a third time on Wednesday.
Small, 31, enters Melbourne's The Alfred hospital to remove part of a tumour which is growing inwards and upwards into his brain before undergoing six weeks of intensive radiotherapy treatment one month after the operation.
The father of two said he had no other option but to have the operation and the treatment.
"I'm running out of options," Small told The Standard.
"Mr Hunn and his medical team have made my wife Amy and I fully aware of the things that can go wrong in this operation. Amy and I are aware of the consequences.
"Mr Hunn has told us the best they can do is remove 80 per cent of the tumour.
"Mr Hunn has told us the tumour, which is growing on the right side of my temporal lobe, urgently needs operating on after he had reviewed MRIs which were first taken in April 2019."
Small, who has six plates and 12 screws inserted into his skull following operations in April and December in 2019, said he was fortunate the tumour was found.
"I suppose one way I'm lucky they found the tumour when I went into The Alfred in April 2019 after a race fall which found bleeding on the brain," he said.
"Following the original operation in April 2019 I went back for more surgery to try and remove the tumour in December 2019.
"Mr Hunn has been monitoring my condition. He compared scans from April 2019 until a month ago and could see it was growing. I'm lucky I'm going into the operation in good health and I'm not suffering with any headaches or seizures."
Small, the winner of 42 races as a jumps jockey, is struggling financially as he has no income coming in to service his mortgage and feed four mouths.
Laureen Jackson, wife of former jumps jockey Shane, has set up a GoFundMe campaign.
"Amy and I want to thank Lauren and Shane Jackson for all the work they have done organising a GoFundMe page and organising silent auction items including running a raffle on Lafferty raceday in July," Small said.
"They have done a sensational job. We would also like to thank Luke O'Keefe and numerous other people who are supporting us through this ordeal.
"I've just got my fingers crossed I'll be able to come back riding in jumps races one day."
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