AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – After five years of fighting debilitating pain, Joshua Nowlan — a hero from the Aurora theater shooting — is in need of some help of his own. Nowlan has made the difficult decison to amputate his leg.

Joshua Nowlan (credit: CBS)

July 20, the day of the shooting in 2012, will never be just another day for Nowlan. He has to live with the mental and physical scars from that night five years ago.

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“It’s never been the same since the shooting. It’s always a constant battle,” he told CBS4.

While shielding one of his friends, Nowlan was shot twice by the gunman — once in the arm and again in the leg.

(credit: CBS)

“You’re seeing the blood and it’s just you’re thinking ‘Oh my gosh, I’m in a horror movie but it’s real,'” he said.

Getting life back to some type of normalcy has been a challenging goal met with its own set of obstacles — the physical pain from those wounds being one of them.

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“Like pins and needles and like really bad muscle cramps is the best analogy people can relate to, except mine (are) on a 24 hours basis,” Nowlan said.

Denver Broncos players visit Nowlan in the hospital after the mass shooting. (credit: CBS)

The pain wouldn’t stop Nowlan from getting back into the gym, competing in a spartan race or even tackling a half marathon. But after years of pushing past the agony, he’s preparing for a new challenge.

“I felt like I had just done this whole list of pain managment and that’s when I started thinking about that these were just all band-aid fixes for me and it’s time for me to look at a permanent solution,” he said. “I talked to my doctors and we decided amputation was going to be the best result to improve my quality of life.”

Long-time friend Kristen Nicholson has been by Nowlan’s side from the beginning. She has launched an online campaign in hopes of rallying the community and helping him pay for the amputation surgery.

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“The reason why I did it is because Josh would never do it for himself and he would never ask for it,” she said.

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Kristen Nicholson, center, sits next to Nowlan during an interview with CBS4. (credit: CBS)

“I believe people are inspired and motivated by him and I think that he has more of a positive impact and a deeper reach than he even realizes.”