For nearly half of his young life, 30-year-old Tim has fiercely stared death in the face, time and time again.At the age of 16, Tim was a junior in high school. As captain of the cross-country team, he was running towards a future filled with endless possibilities. What Tim didn’t know—he would be tested with every ounce of his being to fight for his future, and that’s exactly what he did. Diagnosed with leukemia, and later with three different brain tumors, Tim, and his mom, Valerie—his fearless supporter—are the living definition of tenacity and courage. The summer before his senior year in high school, Tim was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, the most common cancer in children. Tim’s hopes of graduating were overshadowed by “two years of hell,” according to his mom. “From treatments that ignited rare side effects to learning how to navigate a cancer fight plan, it was a struggle to keep our heads above water, but once we surfaced, we were unbeatable and unbreakable,” she said. Two years later, Tim received a clean bill of health. Wasting no time getting back into life, he was voted Prom King and earned his high school diploma. Tim went on to college—a dream that was uncertain only years ago. Now 23 years old, playing softball for his college team and heading into finals for the semester, Tim’s dreams were grounded once again by a grand mal seizure. Rushed to the emergency room, the doctors diagnosed not one, but two brain tumors—anaplastic astrocytoma and oligodendroglioma. His doctors recommended immediate brain surgery, followed by radiation. When asked the prognosis “it’s not a matter of if the tumors return, but when,” the doctors said. “This diagnosis brought us to our knees. I screamed and screamed. I couldn’t understand why my son’s life was threatened once again,” said Valerie.
For the next few years, Tim and his mom persevered extreme highs and lows—certainty and uncertainty—all with courage and vulnerability. But at last, Tim received a call from his doctor relaying his latest MRI is clear. And so, life went on and Tim returned to college. Would you expect anything else from him?
The day of Tim’s college graduation—five years since his brain tumor diagnosis—his doctor called to discuss the results of his most recent MRI. Fearful of the news, Tim delayed the visit to the doctor to attend his graduation and didn’t share the information with his family. “I needed a win. My family needed a win. We all needed just one moment in time to enjoy the present,” Tim recalls.
The next day, Tim visited his doctor and learned he had a glioblastoma.
That was nearly two years ago and yet, Tim continues to beat the odds. Three life-changing diagnoses in 13 years hasn’t stopped Tim or his mom from moving forward. “I’m a fighter, but my mom is my superpower,” Tim smiles.