Simply put, Tim McGrath is a fighter. In 2014, the 38-year-old from Michigan began experiencing terrible pain in his jaw and when he went to have it checked out, doctors told him his pain was from a growing tumor, diagnosed as synovial sarcoma.

According to the National Institutes of Health, synovial sarcoma is a rare and aggressive form of soft-tissue cancer. There are usually no signs or symptoms at first, but over time a tumor can rapidly form and expand, damaging the body systems around it.1 And that’s exactly what happened to McGrath. 

Over time the tumor grew to the size of a softball on the left side of his face.

While he looked into nonsurgical alternatives, after 18 months he decided to just have it removed. The surgery took 30 hours to perform and McGrath spent seven weeks in the hospital recovering.

After the surgery, McGrath’s doctors tried to reconstruct his face but his body rejected their efforts. This left the left the side of his face red, raw, and exposed.




McGrath was in agony:

“’Eventually I was discharged and the cavity was closed but over time the transplant kept shrinking and I experienced numerous infections. There were so many times when I wanted to give up and at times it was difficult to find the strength to carry on.’

After dealing with numerous complications, McGrath decided to take another route. He eventually sought the help of Michigan plastic surgeon Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate.

Chaiyasate opted to use skin from McGrath’s leg, forearm, and forehead to rebuild his face.”2

Thankfully McGrath’s body took well to the new surgeries and recovery and he is finally able to be optimistic about his future. And part of his new life includes running the Facebook page and website Tough Like Tim, which documents his life and offers hope and inspiration to others.3

Facebook: ToughLikeTim

He told the HuffPo UK:

“My journey has been long and mostly inconceivable to most, but I have an amazing support group around me and I draw strength from them daily. I have been through something horrific, but if what I’ve gone through can inspire people to live their lives with gratitude for the things they take for granted then it makes what I’ve gone through all worth it.”4

Sources and References

  1. BuzzFeed, July 9, 2017.
  2. BuzzFeed, July 9, 2017.
  3. BuzzFeed, July 9, 2017.
  4. BuzzFeed, July 9, 2017.