Those who know Tim Bagwell, owner of Get Hooked Bait & Tackle Shop in Ocoee, will be the first to tell you that he loves his community, and he loves to give back to it.
So when Bagwell — who also loves working with the Ocoee Police Department to host “Casting With a Cop” for local children — was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in August, it was surprising to him that he became the person people wanted to help.
In late summer, Bagwell went to his doctor for a checkup but mentioned that he also had sore throat. His doctor took a closer look, felt his thyroids and immediately knew something was wrong.
“She said, ‘That’s not a sore throat; there’s nothing wrong with your throat — you have something wrong with your thyroid,’” Bagwell said.
After seeing a thyroid specialist and getting an ultrasound, he discovered his thyroid was two to three times larger than normal, and he had 15 nodules on the thyroid — each a few inches in diameter.
“(They) said I would have had less than five years to live, because it was crushing my breathing, and … recommended surgery,” Bagwell said.
From there he was sent to a surgeon in Altamonte Springs, who performed surgery on him a few weeks later. The one-hour surgery ended up being closer to four hours because of the size of his nodules. The only thing Bagwell was upset about was that he missed Casting With a Cop because of the surgery.
“(The surgeon) didn’t know if I was going to be able to talk,” Bagwell said. “Everything was being so crushed from all of that. … When they sent the stuff in (for testing), they called me to come in and said they found cancer in a couple of spots. I wasn’t in there for the cancer, I was there to remove everything. He mentioned I probably would have actually had less than a year to live because of how bad it really was.”
Bagwell was referred to a thyroid-cancer center in Orlando and currently is taking radiation pills. His latest scan, which took place about three weeks ago, shows the cancer is still in this thyroid but has not spread. In the meantime, he and his doctors are working together to find the right balance of medication as he battles through side effects such as fatigue.
“When it boils down to five years and the surgeon said it’s worse than they thought, you (would have had) only have less than a year … I’m glad the whole process was the way it was,” he said. “Sometimes things are meant to happen. At first I was like, ‘Why did it happen to me?’ Nobody in my family’s ever had any problems. I don’t do anything but help other people. I guess I have to be in the situation to understand what cancer is like.”
And Jeff “Butch” Parsons, one of Bagwell’s closest friends and customers, has stepped up to help. Parsons is raffling off a half-day, chartered fishing trip on Lake Butler, including bait, through Butch’s Charter Service. Tickets are being sold for $5 each, and a winner will be drawn by Bagwell Nov. 1.
“I’ve been buying bait from (Tim) for over a year, and he and I work together on charter business,” Parsons said. “I’m one of his charter captains. … Consequently, because I know him and I’m in and out of there I saw he wasn’t feeling well, and we’re friends. I’m one of these kinds of people that I think when someone needs help, who better to help than friends? I’m doing it out of friendship. I’m doing this because he can sure use the help. He’s had a lot of cancer treatment, and that’s expensive.”
Bagwell said he is happy to be alive and loves putting smiles on people’s faces.
“As long as I’m breathing and if I can make somebody smile for the day, I’m happy about that,” he said.