|By Sam Mellinger, The Kansas City Star|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
To be honest, he never thought much about it. Why would he? He's 28 years old. Laughs a lot. Loves his Royals. Enjoys his sales job during the week, loves his friends on the weekends. Never had much of a reason to worry, not even when he made that appointment to get checked out a few weeks ago.
The doctor said it was just a mole. They took it out. Then the test results came back. That changed everything. Melanoma. The doctors didn't know much, but what they knew was bad.
"Is this going to kill me?" Tim asked his surgeon.
"Probably," she answered.
A few days later and the news was even worse. What the surgeon thought was a normal, fatty bump on Tim's shoulder turned out to be a black ball of cancer. That wasn't all. It was spreading. The disease was in his lungs. His liver. His spine. Stage IV, they call it. The doctors gave him six months to live. Twelve with chemo, and a 5 percent chance of surviving the next 18 months.
That was only Monday. Less than a week ago. Tim told some friends, and almost immediately,
He saw old friends, some of whom he hadn't heard from since high school. He saw new friends, some of whom he'd known only a short time. Watched the Royals game in his hospital room that night, grateful for what he now calls his daily three hours of normalcy. By the next morning, his boss at the construction company set up a fund-raising account. Friends started a social media rally.
That's about when Tim got on his Facebook page.
"So despite receiving a death sentence yesterday, the past 24 hours have actually been pretty great," he wrote.
How would you react to the worst news imaginable? How would any of us? Are you ready? There is no way to know, of course, but we'd all be lucky to face it with a support system like Tim's.
The social media thing took off. Tim's been on the radio. On television. There's an enormous gap between what this fight will cost and what his insurance will cover. An increasing portion of that gap is being filled with love from both friends and strangers. He jokes that he's become the Joe Dirt of cancer.
"I didn't think I had a story," he says. "I thought I just had bad luck."
Some of his buddies went to the Royals game the other night. They waved a sign: "TIM DRIVES THE BUS AGAINST CANCER." People noticed. If you know Tim, you probably figured this would involve his friends and the Royals somehow. His buddies are trying to tie their fund-raising with the Royals, asking for people to donate
Watching the Royals is starting to take a very different meaning for Tim. This is more than a team for him now. He was born in 1986, the year after the Royals won the World Series and last made the playoffs. His family moved here when he was 10, and he hooked on to the Royals almost immediately.