Coxy’s pet project
Geoff Cox is a real man’s man, but he now admits it was wrong not to call out for help sooner, writes Darren Devlyn
GEOFF Cox, who tonight hosts Channel 7’s New Year’s Eve coverage, is devoid of affectation. Though he might be a bear of a man, his mates will tell you Cox, or ‘‘Coxy’’ as he’s been known for decades, is definitely more Humphrey than grizzly.
It’s that ‘‘everyman’’ persona that will hopefully allow Cox to make an impact on Australians who are in denial about the state of their health.
Cox considers himself ‘‘one of the lucky ones’’ after years of neglecting his wellbeing.
He had put off medical tests for five years because the one-time heavy smoker feared he would be diagnosed with lung cancer.
Doctors told him if he had tests sooner, they would almost certainly have found a polyp and burned it off. Instead, they discovered a cricket ball-sized tumour in his bowel that was removed by surgery in October.
Cox (right) is fortunate the surgery was successful and that the cancer had not spread. Doctors say there is no sign of cancer, but he’s having 12 doses of chemotherapy to reduce the chance the cancer will return. He hopes to get the final all-clear in May.
Cox, who will return to his Coxy’s Big Break filming in mid-January, also wants to front a TV show in 2009 that will encourage middle-aged men and women to have regular health checks.
He’d like the ‘‘amazingly loyal’’ Big Break audience, and many more, to tune in for a show that he hopes will feature some of his showbiz mates who have had major health scares.
‘‘I’ve had an incredible number of emails of support,’’ Cox says of his battle with ill health.
‘‘A doctor said to me, ‘You’re one of the only blokes in the whole of Australia who can talk about bowel cancer and not feel embarrassed, so can you do something to help us?’
‘‘So one of my pet projects is to do a show on men’s health. I’d love to do a show where you’ve got people like Sam Newman (who in early 2008 had surgery for prostate cancer). He’s a mate, he’s on Channel 9, but I don’t care (about network allegiances).
‘‘I want to cover prostate cancer, bowel cancer, sleep apnoea and blood pressure, which is another killer.
‘‘It looks as if we have the funding to do the show, but the hardest part is to make it interesting and not preach. If we can help save some people’s lives, good grief, how good will that be?
‘‘I look back . . . five years I waited (to have tests done that revealed bowel cancer). I put it off because I was too scared, s----ing myself. It’s just crazy. There are so many people out there who have put something (tests) off that has turned bad.
‘‘I said to my doctor, ‘How do I know when I’m better’ and he said, ‘If you’re walking around in five years talking to me, you’re cured’. I said, ‘Are you serious?’ and he said, ‘Absolutely’.’’
Bowel cancer kills 80 Australians each week, yet if found early, almost all cases can be cured. It is possible to find bowel cancer early by completing a simple test called a faecal occult blood test (FOBT).
However, according to recent Cancer Council research, less than a third of those at risk (everyone over 50) had even heard of an FOBT.