On Labor Day, 2004 SM East graduate Tim Grimes was at his apartment in the River Market trying to tidy up. Another camera crew was headed to his place for another interview. It was almost hard to believe that it had only been a week since he got the news.
“A week almost to the hour,” he said, checking the clock. “They got the results of the tests back, and it showed that the cancer had spread.”
Grimes works a job in sales and didn’t have health insurance through his employer, so it had taken him a while to get the suspicious-looking mole on his back checked out at a free clinic. The staff there told him they wanted to take a biopsy, but that it was probably nothing to worry about. When the biopsy results came back, though, the practitioner called and told him they needed to examine more of the skin around the area where the mole had been.
“There was a lot of concern in her voice,” she said.
The tests showed Grimes had skin cancer. He needed to have another test to see if it had spread. When those results came back, it showed that the cancer was already in his lungs, liver and spine. The statistics suggest he has about a 5 percent chance to beat the disease.
“That was devastating to hear,” he said. But Grimes didn’t wallow in the weight of the diagnosis. The thing is, he mostly feels fine.
“The weirdest part is that I really did feel normal,” he said. “Looking back, I was maybe a little fatigued, but not enough to be alarming. So when this all happened last week, it was kind of like, ‘Where’s the punch line?’ I feel fine. How could I be dying?”
That attitude made the decision to aggressively fight the disease easy for Grimes. And it made it incredibly easy for his friends to rally behind him by launching the “RoyalsWinforTim” campaign that has sparked huge media attention and already helped raise more than $22,000 for his medical bills.
Many of the donations have come from members of the SM East community — even people he’s never met.
“I’ve seen a lot of people writing things like, ‘Help out this fellow East grad,'” he said. “Even if they didn’t know me or we weren’t that close, it’s like there’s a bond there either way.”
Grimes expects to begin chemotherapy late this month. It’s a process he know will be exhausting — but he says he’s ready.
“I feel good now, so I know I can do it,” he said. “Seeing how much support I’ve gotten has been really uplifting. Nobody owes me anything. It’s really nice that all these people are pitching in.”