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Sharing his story on living with colorectal cancer

‘We all hate cancer. What I hate most about it is seeing the pain and fear in the eyes of my loved ones and family.’ – Tim Dorward, Nov. 1, 2017, Trumansburg


          Tim Dorward of Trumansburg shares a personal motto with friends and family: “Live while alive.”

                The reminder has gotten him through tough times since 2016, when at 57 he learned he had colorectal cancer. His Facebook blog echoes the motto while recording how he lives with cancer. He tells you the disease is evil, awful and has no mercy. Then, he urges you to get checked for the disease so you can live while alive.

Tim writes candidly of his fear and pain. When tumors shrink, he shares his hope. When the cancer spreads, his frustrations are fierce. He is frank about radiation treatment, chemotherapy and a string of surgeries that led to an ostomy to replace his bladder, colon and rectum.

However, most of his blog tells a much different story than the darker posts. He relives the fun of a skiing trip, a ride in a sailplane, Grassroots concerts, amazing meals and visits to Finger Lakes breweries and wineries. His seven years of posts document moments of joy, laughter and his amusing goofiness. He beams while holding his newest grandchild in a 2019 photo. Other photos show Tim with no hair from his chemotherapy. More photos show his beloved granddaughters dyeing his re-grown hair shades of purple and green. There are endless images of him enjoying time with family and friends who seem to number in the hundreds. He often writes how much he loves them for their support, and they love him back with jokes, kindness and encouragement. Tim’s pictures and posts prove that living every day to its fullest is the best revenge for an awful disease.

Tim’s blog, “The Chronicles of Elmo,” begins when he got his cancer diagnosis in early 2016. Naming his tumor after the smiling Muppet character is part of the dark humor embedded in his messages. The mix of despondent and delightful posts makes readers laugh, weep, and wonder if they could travel Tim’s journey. Tim’s words tell his story best. These are excerpts from his blog:

Jan. 28, 2016. This is hard for me to say.... I have been diagnosed with cancer...but am hopeful that it will be resolved completely.

Tim begins chemotherapy in February 2016 at Cayuga Medical Center. His cancer would be in and out of remission for the next six years when he periodically resumed chemotherapy.

June 26, 2016. I don't want a bag attached to me for the rest of my life, even if it means that I will live. I voiced this to some of my closest friends over the weekend…many were in tears this evening discussing how I'm not allowed to bow out. To my very dear friends, because of you, I realize that I can't chicken out on life.

Dec. 8, 2017. Elmo must be removed surgically. There are no other options.

March 2, 2018. During the 15-hour surgery, they were constantly taking small tissue samples to determine if they were cancerous or not. However, at the end of the surgery, they knew that they got everything. I AM NOW 100% CANCER FREE!!!

By August Tim’s cancer spread to his liver and lungs.

Sept. 17, 2018. My rectal cancer cells have gone metastatic… When I asked the PA about life expectancy, she said the median is 3 to 4 years. With my daughter present, I did my very best to hold in my emotions......and failed for a few moments. It sucks to cry about life in front of a child.

Chemotherapy restarts.

Oct. 15, 2018.  I have great faith in my body, the universe, and the good juju that you folks keep sending my way. Full steam ahead!!!

Sept. 29, 2019. Introducing...my newest grandchild...Bria Marlene Bauman at 5:42 this morning. Healthy and perfect in every way.

Feb. 2, 2020. Little Venice Super Bowl party! Good drinks. Great friends! Free munchies!!!

Oct. 26, 2020. My CT scan had shown that the lesions on my lungs had grown.

Tim starts oral chemotherapy.

Dec. 24, 2020. The oral chemotherapy is doing its job.

April 21, 2021. Though I am disappointed that what life throws at me is preventing me from doing my yard projects, getting back on my motorcycle, or just playing with friends. On the plus side, at least I am still here.

Nov. 20, 2021. I was feeling much better today. I'm even able to now go up the stairs without crawling hand over foot, as I have been for the last two months. Baby steps, as they say.

Oct. 17, 2022. Huge thanks to my daughters and their families for my 2020 Christmas gift – a sailplane ride. It was a beautiful fall day to check out the colors.

                March 4, 2023. Great time skiing in Colorado.


Click here for more information on the Cayuga Cancer Center, or call 607-272-5414. The Cayuga Cancer Center has offices at Cayuga Medical Center, Schuyler Hospital, in Cortland at 1081 Commons Avenue, and at the East Campus of CMC at 10 Arrowwood Drive. For information on colorectal cancer screenings, call Cayuga Gastroenterology at (607) 339-0788 or Gastroenterology Associates of Ithaca at (607) 272-5011.