Tim Briley is known for his giving nature, but on Sunday March 11th, he received an outpouring of love and support.
On a foggy, overcast, hour-shortened Sunday morning, many showed up to the Eagles.
They flocked in droves to a room filled with red shirts captioned with a “Never Give Up,” mantra on the back for a morning in celebration of Tim Briley.
While the weather outside was an uncomfortable reminder of the cold nature of Minnesota winters, inside the venue was a reminder of warm nature of the St. James community.
Warmth is something that personifies Tim Briley to those who know him.
“Tim is one of the kindest souls in the community, his work with kids, and with everyone he touches it’s special,” said event coordinator and friend, Elaine Blackstead.
Briley has a reputation for being a giver, someone who loves to lend a helping hand or coordinate benefits for those who need it.
On Sunday, however, the consummate giver learned to receive.
Sunday's benefit, whether it was pancakes, well-wishes, donations or hugs, Briley was on the receiving end from the 300+ that attended.
At times during the benefit, Briley exhibited the exhaustion of a man who was recovering from five weeks of radiation and chemotherapy — but not once did the warm smile leave his face.
“I’m not used to this, being a giver all my life but I’m so overwhelmed and thrilled to have support for all the people in my life.”
At the beginning of December, Briley began feeling the symptoms associated with a sinus infection on the left side of his nasal passage.
Whereas a standard case of sinusitis lasts a few days, not only was Briley still feeling sinus symptoms but he wasn’t getting any better.
This triggered Briley to get a CAT scan the day after Christmas, which resulted in doctors finding a polyp - which necessitated removal at the esteemed Rochester Mayo Clinic.
When Rochester took a look, they noticed something unusual about the polyp, and after a few more tests the doctors told Briley he had a nasal tumor.
In most cases, a mucous tumor is benign but after a January 2nd surgery to remove the polyp, doctors diagnosed it as a blue cell cancer.
Tim Briley became one of the rare cases of neuroendocrine carcinoma.
The percentage of people who have neuroendocrine carcinoma is rare.
Studies estimate that fewer than 2,000 new cases occur in the United States each year.
But neuroendocrine carcinoma that affects the nose and olfactory system is even rarer.
Prior to Briley, only three cases have been documented in the United States.
Tim Briley would be the fourth.
What seemed to be a simple sinus infection had turned into an ultra-rare form of cancer.
“It was mind-blowing, you go from having a minor sinus infection to finding you have cancer,” said Briley. “What can prepare you for that?”
But despite the uncertainty ahead and early feelings of anxiousness, Tim Briley was ready to fight cancer head-on.
“After the first two days, I knew I had to be positive, listen to my doctors and trust that I could beat this.”
The first step was to do chemo and shrink the tumor due to its proximity to Briley’s eyes.
While the shrinkage is complete, Briley still faces potential long-term ramifications in regards to the radiation affecting his eyesight.
With the past few weeks taking a toll on Briley from radiation chemotherapy to subsequent surgery, he’s been buoyed by a tremendous support system.
Tim’s Support Tower.
It’s been the name given to Tim’s husband Bruce, Tim’s large family, co-workers, friends, and supporters who have wished him well or showed up on Sunday.
“We’re used to putting these events on for other people, and to be in a position where others’ are being so generous for us - it has been humbling and amazing,” said Tim's husband, Bruce Oliver.
While the fight has been arduous, especially physically, Briley’s spirit hasn’t wavered.
“You have to keep fighting - the love, support, and prayers from your loved ones can get through any battle,” said Briley.
For Briley, one memento that has touched him and inspired him through the recovery process is the get-well cards from the students of Northside.
“Receiving that card from the amazing, kind-hearted kids that I’ve gotten to meet was one of the best things I could’ve asked for,” said Briley. “Things that like that make it easier to keep fighting.”
Once the one who endlessly gave support and hosted benefits, it was Tim Briley’s turn to be on the receiving end of the overwhelming small-town support system.
On Sunday, the consummate giver had learned to receive.