THE community is rallying around champion former Kawana Dolphins halfback and skipper Paul Cohen who is headed to Sydney this week for major brain surgery.
Renowned for his toughness and guile, Cohen suffered a series of small strokes recently, leaving him with one closed artery in his brain and the other artery only half opened.
The 35-year-old is headed to Macquarie University Hospital this week for neurosurgery, undergoing an extracranial to intracranial bypass on the closed artery, with the other artery to be closely monitored in case action needs to be taken on it later.
Cohen is facing a number of weeks in Sydney as he recovers from the surgery and despite having private health cover, there is a significant gap in funding of his medical costs which, coupled with the mounting travel costs for his wife Casey and their two sons, has sparked a community campaign to help support the man known as 'Ed'.
Brough made it clear Cohen had not approached him for help and was uncomfortable about asking for help in the hope it will easy any financial pressures on the family and enable 'Ed' to be fully focused on his recovery after the life-changing diagnosis.
While Cohen may be reluctant to reach out for help, the community has made it clear they are eager to help, with more than $18,000 raised since the page was created on Saturday.
Brough said the community response had been incredible and had stunned Cohen when he updated him on the funds pouring in.
"He was dumbstruck," Brough recalled, saying he could hear the relief in his close mate's voice.
Brough said he'd sat down with Cohen recently to work out where they were at and medical bills, travel and accommodation expenses soon added up to about $30,000.
With so many unknowns, Brough said it had been incredible to see some of Cohen's fiercest opponents in his heyday among those digging deep to help out.
He said it spoke volumes to Ed's character and the quality of people in the local rugby league community.
"He's (Cohen) no rock star," Brough said.
"He's just an ordinary bloke in the community who played some great footy and treated everyone with respect.
"I think the world of him.
"I'm hoping he's blown away by the whole thing."
Cohen is the Dolphins' highest point scorer and holds the record for most games played for the club, racking up a massive 499 appearances, winning multiple premierships among those.
To help the Cohen family out during this challenging time go to gofundme.com and search 'Kawana Dolphins Supports Paul Cohen'.
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