THE last month has been unimaginably tough for Hayden Sampson.
Just before the new year, the 15-year-old from Wangaratta received a diagnosis that would turn his world upside-down – testicular cancer.
Everything since that moment has been a whirlwind of tests, doctors, hospitals and surgery.
Throughout it all though, has been one constant – a group of seven of his mates, and their wish to shave their heads in solidarity.
They were there for Hayden on the day he was diagnosed, with a plan in mind.
Barely a month later, the Shave for Hayden went ahead at King George Gardens Reserve on Sunday afternoon.
Roughly 300 people turned up to watch seven of Hayden's closest friends shave their heads, as well as several other friends and acquaintances who joined in at the last minute.
Organised by the group, with the assistance of Wangaratta councillor Ashlee Fitzpatrick and mayor Dean Rees, the team raised more than $13,000 for the Cancer Council on Sunday alone, with online donations likely to tip the final figure well above $20,000.
Mr Sampson said he had been blown away by the response.
“It's truly amazing to see everyone around here supporting not only me, but all of the guys in what we're trying to raise awareness of,” he said.
“It's not a rare cancer, it happens in a lot of kids my age and it goes unknown, nobody really thinks about it too much.
“This just shows how much of a good community we have here.”
With his life having changed so dramatically in such a short space of time, Mr Sampson said having a close group of friends around to help him through had made an enormous difference.
“That day was probably one of the hardest days I’ve ever had to face,” he said.
“Having close friends and family around was truly amazing, it shows how caring they are.
“I was so happy to have a good bunch of mate around me at the time.”
Cr Fitzpatrick said the successful event showed the future of Wangaratta was in safe hands.
“I'm proud of our community, these young guys can conquer anything,” she said.
“It shows our community spirit, the type of community we are and the future we're going to have.”