Tim Olsen lost his battle against a rare form of melanoma last week.
Tim Olsen lost his battle against a rare form of melanoma last week. Supplied

Timothy's life cut short by cancer

TIMOTHY Olsen was passionate about life, but was farewelled on Saturday after he lost his battle with cancer.

Sixteen-year-old Tim was diagnosed with a very rare conjunctival melanoma that is seen only about once every 10 years in young people in the Western world.

The former Toolooa High year 11 student was diagnosed two years ago, after a small bloodshot mark on the white of his eye, which had been present for some years, became more prominent. The doctors at first thought it was a pterygium and said there was nothing to worry about. However, it began to grow rapidly into a lump similar to a blood blister.

Tim spent a lot of time at the skate park in the sun without sunglasses and the tumour grew rapidly.

“We took him to another doctor and then to a specialist and he had the melanoma removed from his eye in September 2008,” his father Monte said.

Tim underwent another eye operation before the cancer spread to his eyelid. Radium treatment was given, but the cancer had spread to his neck.

“He then underwent a very serious neck operation where they removed all of his lymph nodes.”

“We thought he was clear of cancer at that stage as most of the tests came back clear, but over the next year the cancer spread to his brain and he underwent major brain surgery to remove a tumour,” Monte said.

After this the cancer began to spread all over the brave youngster's body. He underwent several sessions of chemotherapy; however, it became apparent in the last few months the chemotherapy was not working.

After watching a 60 Minutes episode about a new medication being trialled with positive results on this type of cancer, Monte approached the company, but was heartbroken to be told Tim could not participate in the drug trial because he was under 18.

“We were then told there was no more treatment available for him,” Monte said.

“It's like he was chained to a train line with a big diesel train heading straight at him and I couldn't pull him off in time,” he said.

“It appears that younger people have less chance of surviving melanoma than older people.”

Tim was passionate about motorbikes, scooters and BMX bikes.

He was a good mate to many, son of Monte and Barbara, brother of Sam and a great pal to his dogs Teddy and Billy.

Tim had big dreams for the future. He was so happy to have been accepted into the NRG program through Toolooa High, where he was training to take on an apprenticeship as a fitter and turner. Sadly, he was never to reach this goal.

Tim was born in Southport, but came to Gladstone at 12 months old when his parents bought the Kin Kora Village Caravan Park.

“He had visions of his future and dreams of the car he wanted to buy.”

Tim was well liked and had plenty of spirit. He was well known with the grey nomads around the caravan park as the boy who, from a young age, was seen working alongside his dad, with dogs running at the rear, on mowers and equipment bigger than himself.

He also loved to drive ‘the mule' (a golf buggy) around the park, with his dogs on the seat beside him.

“He always wanted to go to the Lowmead track and ride his motorbike there and he finally got to do it in the end,” Monte said.

Tim was laid to rest in a bright red coffin the same colour as his beloved Honda motorbike. Personal items and letters from his friends were placed in the coffin with him. Several hundred people attended the funeral service on Saturday at St Saviour's Church to celebrate the life of one very brave young man. His mother Barbara said she had never been more proud of her boy than she was on Saturday.

“We would like to thank everyone for their cards, flowers and thoughts,” she said

“We would also like to thank the wonderful staff at both the Mater and the Gladstone Base hospitals who treated Tim throughout his battle.”

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