Toughest battle yet: Canton's Ward ready to face down cancer

By: Brian Fees | Towanda Daily Review | December 7, 2018


Canton's Timmy Ward has been in many battles on the football field, and wrestling mat. He's been in must-win games, and huge wrestling matches.

When The Daily & Sunday Review All-Region team is announced later this month Ward will be the Player of the Year.

Simply put, he's one of the best athletes in the area. One of the region's fiercest competitors. Now, the Canton junior faces his own battle, and he knows that the competitiveness that's made him a great athlete will help him in this fight. Ward was recently diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma and will miss the wrestling season as he begins to receive chemotherapy for the next three months.

"I think my competitiveness and positive attitude will be the best ammo for this fight," Ward said. "There is no other option, but to beat this. There is a reason this is happening. He has a plan."

Timmy has three sisters, and one of his older sisters, Brooke, knows just how competitive her brother is.

"He's one of the most competitive people I've ever met," Brooke said. "He has been his entire life. Even when us siblings were young and just trying to have a fun Wiffle Ball game in the backyard, Timmy was always super intense and into it.

"He has never liked losing, and that's also why I know he'll beat this."

Ward first noticed a lump in the summer, and the size of the lump, and the pain, made him get it checked out. The tests came back negative for anything bad, but then things started to change.

"It got bigger and it was harder than before," Ward said.

So, Ward went back and ended up talking to a surgeon. The idea that something might be wrong was something Ward had to think about through football season, but he didn't let it phase him.

"I wasn't having any symptoms and it all looked to be nothing major," Ward said. "I wasn't very worried about it other than the fact that it was painful. But, other than that I kind of didn't really focus on it.

"I tried not to think about it, because I love football and I just wanted to play."

And, play football he did. Ward dominated all season long for the Warriors. He led Canton to an 8-0 start to the year and helped them go 9-1 and reach the district finals. He was a dominant force on offense, defense and special teams and that was what earned him All-Region player of the year honors.

The word cancer was a shock for Ward and his family.

"It was very scary just to hear the word cancer," Timmy Ward said. "I went to bed that night and when I woke up I felt like it was a dream."

The whole family was stunned, but for Brooke seeing the positive attitude her brother had through all this has helped her to know it will be okay.

"The news was a huge shock and it was obviously very heartbreaking for us, as it is for anybody who finds out that a loved one has cancer" Brooke Ward said. "But, Timmy is so extremely strong and he is staying very positive. The day we found out I sent him a text and he responded, 'it's all going to be okay.' So, I believe that the fact that he's so strong and so positive are going to be huge in helping him beat this."

For Brooke when she heard the word cancer, it shocked her, but she knew she had to be strong for her brother.

"The day we found out about his diagnosis is kind of a blur," Brooke said. "I think it came as a total surprise to all of us. I got the call from my mom and once she told me the diagnosis, I didn't even hear anything else that she said during that call. I was in complete shock. But, just like Timmy, my parents, sisters and I are staying so optimistic because we all know how strong Timmy is and we know if anyone can beat this it's him."

For Timmy having his family there for him has meant everything.

"My family has been very strong through all of this," he said. "At first it was scary and unexpected, but we all just know that we will get through this together as a family."

Sports has always played a huge role in Ward's life. However, this is making it clear to him that while he will always enjoy sports, they aren't the most important things.

"This whole thing has showed me that worrying about winning or losing football games aren't the most important things in life," Ward said. "I started playing sports because I thought they were fun. And, so that's what I want to continue doing. You will win some and lose some, I just want to enjoy them while I have it and the friends I have made playing sports makes it even better."

What Ward has also learned is how close the NTL, and his community really are, as everyone has come out to support him and his family.

"The support has been amazing," he said. "The people in this town and in the NTL are great. They have encouraged me since day one and it means a lot. It makes you realize that in my life we are all one team and we will be here for each other."

The support is something that Brooke and Timmy's family has also noticed.

"The amount of support our family has gotten in the last week and a half is insane," she said. "It's so amazing how communities, especially small ones like ours, can come together for something like this."

For anyone interested in helping Ward's family out, a GoFundMe page has been setup to help them with the medical costs and can be found at


About the Author

Brian Fees Author Bio
Brian Fees

Brian Fees is the sports editor of the Daily & Sunday Review in Towanda, PA.