Fourteen-year-old Johey Basedow has 3000 reasons to smile.
The Pelaw Main teenager has come out of an unprecedented 20-hour surgery in the United States where specialists were expecting to remove 200 tumours but instead removed 3000.
Johey, a St Peter's Maitland student, underwent the surgery in UNC Chapel Hill Hospital, North Carolina 11 months after being diagnosed with Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumours (DSRCT)
It is a rare and aggressive cancer that no one else in Australia is believed to have.
"He came out of the anesthetic trying to take off his oxygen mask, which the anesthetist told us is always a good sign," his mum Emma said.
"The surgery went really well with no complications. We were shocked and devastated to learn that Dr Hayes-Jordan removed approximately 3000 tiny tumours, the size of pencil dots, from Johey's abdomen," Emma said.
"The scans had shown up only 100 to 200 tumours.
"The largest tumour could not be resected as it was wrapped around the portal vein, a location too dangerous to attempt removal. Johey will have radiation therapy on that tumour back in Australia."
Emma said once Johey returned to intensive care the focus was on pain management.
"Once that was achieved he felt much better and has since had his nasogastric tube, oxygen mask and stents removed," Emma said.
"He is doing well. We still have a long way to recovery, but Johey has 3000 tumours less than yesterday and has started healing.
"We will take it one day at a time." The first thing Johey said once his pain was being managed and he could relax, was a heartfelt thank you to his parents for organising the surgery in the US.
"After two days of no sleep, his thoughtfulness brought me to tears," Emma said.
"We have to pass on Johey's sincere thanks to everyone that has supported us.
"Making this journey to the US to be treated by the amazing Dr Andrea Hayes-Jordan and her wonderful team was definitely the right decision."
The family expects to be in the United States for a month and now face a $200,000 debt which includes surgery and post operative care. Their transport and accommodation costs are additional. A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help.