Right before Tim returned to college for his final semester, he had surgery to repair a torn labrum. His competitive hockey career was over, but he was looking forward to enjoying his remaining time at school. In January, he started to experience flu like symptoms, but thought that it was due to his surgery. When he went to his doctor for a post-surgery appointment over spring break, the first thing his doctor mentioned was that he “didn’t look so good.” He suggested that Tim see his primary care physician to be checked out. After his appointment, Tim spiked a 104.7 fever and his doctor told him to go the hospital immediately and have a chest X-ray and blood work. All of the tests came back negative, and his family began the search to find out what was wrong with Tim. After visits with an infectious disease doctor, various other physicians, and finally a hematologist-oncologist, Tim found out he had Hodgkin lymphoma. His cancer journey began.
Treatment was “brutal, tough, monotonous, painful, debilitating, and humbling” for Tim, with unexpected hospital stays, lack of a normal life, and doubts if the treatment was worth it. Cancer forced Tim to leave college and deal with things that other kids his age had never dreamed of. While his friends were starting their lives post-graduation, he was either in the hospital, at the clinic, or locked in the house because his immune system wasn’t strong enough for him to be in certain situations. “Instead of becoming independent, I was more dependent then I’d been in a long, long time. And since I was treated at a pediatric clinic, I became aware of a different world. I tried very hard to be the same Tim that everyone knew, but I definitely had days where I lost it,” says Tim. Still, he was determined to get his life back.
Now that Tim is done with treatment, he is excited for life to go back to normal. He still has anxiety when he gets scans and struggles with survival guilt, but things are finally falling into place. “I know I was young when I was diagnosed, but seeing the little kids and young teens I saw during treatment not survive was really, really hard,” explains Tim. Tim is looking forward to staying cancer free, completing his college degree, starting a new business, and helping other kids and young adults who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis. He wants others to know that “It’s OK to be scared, terrified, or horrified, but do not let those emotions take over you. Cancer doesn’t care how you feel; it’s a monster. You are stronger and more resilient than you know.”