WEST FARGO, N.D. — Tyler Robertson didn’t let cancer stop him from living his life to the fullest, and he was more concerned about others than himself, loved ones said.
Less than three months after doctors removed a roughly 3-inch tumor off his brain in 2017, he was back on the ice, playing hockey. Despite being on chemotherapy, the West Fargo teenager was faster than his father — Joe Robertson plays twice a week on a league year-round.
“It was amazing,” Joe Robertson said. “He just wanted to get back on the ice and have fun.”
Tyler Robertson’s two-year fight with brain cancer ended Sunday, June 30, when he died. He was 21 years old.
But family members and friends said the young man never gave up fighting, did the things he wanted to do and had fun doing them.
“He wanted to live, not just survive,” his mother, Cindy Robertson, said.
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Born in Grand Forks, Tyler Robertson moved with his family to West Fargo when he was 15 years old. Shortly after that, he got his first job at pizza restaurant Papa Murphy’s.
He had a great work ethic, his dad said. Tyler Robertson also was employed at Happy Joe’s Pizza and Ice Cream, HuHot Mongolian Grill and Buffalo Wild Wings, where he worked for four years.
Joe Robertson said his son was full of life, had a great personality and never judged anyone, which likely was why he was so well-liked. Tyler Robertson had a sarcastic side, but in a good way, his father said. The young man was intelligent and “super fast with the comebacks,” according to Joe Robertson.
“Everyone would gravitate toward him,” Joe Robertson said.
Cindy Robertson recalled how her son would make people laugh, befriending others and helping friends whenever they needed.
Sometimes, that involved teasing, she said.
"He was going to pick on somebody, but not enough to make them mad," she said. "Just enough to make them laugh, like, 'Who needs a cheering up today?' "
At 19 years old, Tyler Robertson was diagnosed while working at Buffalo Wild Wings, co-worker and close friend Taneisha Goodman said. He was told by doctors he had a high stage of glioblastoma, a treatable form of brain cancer that couldn’t be cured, according to Forum archives.
He had years to live, the doctors said — at most, he would make it to 29.
Still, Tyler Robertson was determined to keep fighting, even though he knew his time was short, Goodman said. He made everyone laugh and treated others like he wanted to be treated.
“He fought to his last breath,” she said. “He never did give up.”
He told The Forum in a 2017 interview he would keep a positive attitude. His mother said he worried about her more than himself.
"He cared for others more than he worried about his cancer," Cindy Robertson said.
The cancer patient had a passion for sports, especially hockey. He played for the Fargo Freeze, West Fargo High School Packers and Moorhead Spuds Junior Gold teams, according to his obituary.
The community rallied behind him and held several benefits. During a fundraiser in June 2018 at Buffalo Wild Wings, then-Minnesota Wild player Matt Cullen made a surprise visit to Tyler Robertson. The NHL star let Tyler Robertson try on Stanley Cup Championship rings before giving the West Fargo resident a signed jersey, Joe Robertson said.
Joe Robertson said he's grateful for all of the support from everyone who helped his son.
"He lived life to the fullest because it was the deck of cards he was handed," Cindy Robertson said, echoing words her son once spoke. "He played them the best he could."