ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) -
An Albuquerque fire fighter is facing his biggest battle yet this week.
Vincent Cordova, 24, is undergoing an intense and rare three day surgery to remove a deadly brain tumor, but he already has a little luck on his side thanks to the Mega Millions Lottery.
Five fellow fire fighters at Station Eight struck gold winning $10,000 in the lottery. They hit five of the six numbers correctly. The guys want to give some of their winnings to Cordova, helping him pay for his expensive surgery.
"I'm nervous. I'm scared. I've got these butterflies in my stomach that just won't leave, but I'm hanging in there," Cordova told News 13 over the phone Sunday evening.
Cordova's type of brain tumor found in only two-percent of people. It's about the size of two golf balls and squeezing his jugular vein. If it's not removed Cordova will die, but the surgery's not cheap and will cost nearly $1 million. In addition to those costs, Cordova must stay in Los Angeles for about two months, and after that he will have to undergo another six months of physical therapy.
He says he's overwhelmed with the compassion of his fellow comrades. "I can't believe that the fireman bond is so strong," he exclaimed.
The winners say they're thankful for the opportunity to help such an inspiration. "We love our brother firefighters," said Albuquerque Fire Lt. Steve Keffer. "We all know we have challenges in our lives and things happen, so we decided to help his family out and do what we can do for him."
The firefighters bought their winning ticked in a spur of the moment move. Purchasing it just 20 minutes before lotto sales stopped. They said they didn't watch the drawing live and couldn't believe they won.
"We were just eating dinner, and I had forgotten all about it because what are your chances of winning?" said Lt. Keffer.
Cordova is just anxious to make a speedy recovery and says the winning ticket is a great start.
He has a mini surgery Monday afternoon, then one that will take about four hours on Tuesday. The final and most important operation is set for Wednesday. It will be preformed by a team of five surgeons and take at least 10 hours.
Meanwhile back in Albuquerque, community members are holding dozens of fundraisers to help with costs.
Cordova says he's received letters and prayers from all over the nation, and is grateful for the support.
"I just want to tell everyone thank you for standing by me and staying strong," Cordova said. "Thank you for believing in me, and I promise to see you guys soon!"