Darian Convery could never imagined that his passing headaches were anything to be too concerned about.
After all, he was a fit and ambitious 24-year-old police officer in Wagga Wagga, on the NSW border with Victoria, planning to become a detective with his entire life ahead.
But when the headaches intensified and he developed blurry vision while on duty, he decided to see a doctor.
The doctor thought it was most likely sinusitis, but booked a CAT-scan to be safe.
But his headache just got worse and his scan was brought forward by three days to Friday, April 21. Doctors ordered him straight to hospital, where he was taken straight to emergency for further testing.
Darian Convery, 24, a NSW Police officer based in Wagga Wagga, started experiencing a nagging headache in March. He is pictured far right with friends in Mudgee a week before he was diagnosed
'He called me extremely distressed and said the doctors had told him he was no longer allowed to drive,' his mother, Janelle, told Daily Mail Australia.
'I left work on the Central Coast in what I had on and raced to Wagga Wagga to be by his side.'
After she made the five and a half hour journey through the night, Janelle arrived at Darian's bedside and they nervously awaited the results of blood tests and more scans.
By midday, doctors came back into his room to deliver devastating news - the apparently fit life-long non-smoker had lung cancer.
It was terminal.
'I felt like I had been winded, I couldn't speak. We sat there in utter disbelief,' Janelle said.
'He is fit, he runs 10km a week, swims, goes to the gym.
'Apart from the headache, he had no other symptoms.'
A later PET scan showed Darian's tumour in his left lung had spread into his lymph nodes and brain, explaining the headaches and affected vision.
He was diagnosed with stage four non-small cell adenocarcinoma, an aggressive type of lung cancer that develops slowly and typically shows no symptoms until advanced stages.
When symptoms do occur, they include often-dismissed: a persistent cough, pain in the chest, and shortness of breath.
Darian (far right) has never smoked and maintained a healthy lifestyle, running 10kms a week, and regularly swimming and going to the gym
Doctors have told him the cancer is terminal and he will require drugs for the rest of his life. Pictured: colleagues visiting the constable in hospital
Doctors told Darian the cause of his troubled vision was one of the 15 tumours they had found in his brain - and the cancer was so advanced it was 'not survivable'.
'It killed me,' Janelle said.
'He has never smoked, never drunk, or touched drugs. He has lived the perfect life of a 24 year old.
'To have to face your own mortality at 24 is gut wrenching.'
In the space of two weeks, the family's lives have been turned inside out as they deal with the shock while also working to pack up Darian's life in Wagga Wagga and bring him back home to the family base in Newcastle.
He has been placed on several medications, including an immunotherapy drug, which will suppress the growth of his tumours and prevent them from spreading, buying him precious time with family.
A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help the family cover his immunotherapy treatment, which costs $12,500 a month and will be required for the rest of Darian's life.
Seasoned oncologists have been left baffled by the young cop's case as he did not suffer shortness of breath and had no family history of cancer.
Darian pictured with his grandfather when he graduated from the NSW Police Force academy in 2018
Darian spent two years in West Wyalong after graduating before transferring to Wagga Wagga last year
'What he has is extraordinarily rare. They have not seen it in anyone so young, and have never seen it spread so far in such a short amount of time,' Janelle said.
His devastated friends and colleagues have rallied to support the constable, who has spent the past three years serving as a police officer.
After graduating in 2018, he spent two years in West Wyalong, a rural town in the state's south west, before transferring to Wagga Wagga in November last year.
'Joining the police force was all he wanted to do,' Janelle said.
'He has always been empathetic, non confrontational, and enjoyed talking to people. For him, it was the perfect fit.'
Although he is still struggling to come to terms with his devastating diagnosis, Janelle said Darian has been very brave and reminds her they need to take things 'one step-at-a-time' rather than think about the worst.
'Our whole lives have been ripped apart,' she said.
'We have been plunged into the complex world, of diagnosis, prognosis, and everything that I never thought I would have to experience as a parent.
'You see these people who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day and live to be 90, and live a completely normal life.
'It is just so unfair.'
What is non-small cell adenocarcinoma?
Chest pain, coughing or spitting up blood, or a new cough that does not go away, a chest infection that lasts more than three weeks or keeps coming back, shortness of breath or changes to the voice such as hoarseness, enlarged fingertips, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, and tiredness
SOURCE: Cancer Council