Lucas McCulley, 22, was born with a lymphangioma tumor on his face, but could not afford to have it removed

By Lindsay Kimble
August 10, 2017 04:46 PM

An Idaho man may finally be be able to have a huge tumor removed from his face thanks to an outpouring of support from his community and beyond.

Lucas McCulley, 22, was born with a benign lymphangioma tumor on his face, according to local outlet KTVB.

After undergoing 24 surgeries before age 10 — the last one nearly killing him when he bled out on the operating table — McCulley, of Napa, said doctors opted to refrain from operating on him again until the tumor stopped growing.

When McCulley turned 18, doctors told him the tumor was, in fact, operable — but he was uninsured. Now, he’s been denied disability, which would have included health care coverage under Medicaid.

“I’m in pain from the moment I wake up and right until I go to sleep,” McCulley told KTVB. “That’s the problem, you can’t prove pain, anybody can say they are in a bunch of pain but can’t prove it. They said that my vision is fine, I’m good enough to go work in the back of a place.”

Credit: Paul Boehlke/KTVB-TV/AP

McCulley has turned to GoFundMe to help raise funds, writing that he wants to “actually live my life properly.”

“I don’t really mind the whole being different part because everyone is different in their own way, it’s kind of a unique part of me it has made me who I am,” McCulley says. “It would still be something that is so brand new to me, and make my life a lot better in every aspect of the day, just so I don’t have to worry about it, I don’t have to wake up hurting or anything like that and just be normal.”

He added, “Both my mom and my dad it’s their life goal to see that taken care of and to see it gone and the burden off me.”

Luckily, in under 24 hours after KTVB first shared McCulley’s story, the GoFundMe raised over $42,000.

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In response, McCulley told the outlet, “Thank you to everybody, you can’t really say enough words because everyone came up there and has helped me get up to where I am right now.”

McCulley said that he plans to contact his doctor this week to discuss next options, and said he will share regular updates with the donors who made it possible.

And now, McCulley is one step closer to being able to pursue his dream: joining the military.

He told KTVB, “I should be able to live a normal life, do what I want to do because I have always wanted to join the Army.”

McCulley did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.