Coxy’s big wake-up

Treat­ment for bowel can­cer has launched a cru­sade, writes Dar­ren Devlyn

Herald Sun - Switched On - - News -

HE’S RENOWNED for hav­ing the broad­est smile, loud­est laugh, and thick­est mous­tache in the busi­ness.

More than any­thing, Ge­off Cox has stamped him­self as a bloke with truck­loads of op­ti­mism and an ab­sence of af­fec­ta­tion.

Cox, how­ever, has a se­ri­ous side rarely ev­i­dent to fans of his Chan­nel 7 travel show Coxy’s Big Break.

He is en­dur­ing chemo­ther­apy for bowel can­cer at the mo­ment, but the treat­ment won’t stop him from a day­time host­ing role on Seven’s Royal Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal Good Fri­day Ap­peal.

Cox, who has three doses of chemo­ther­apy to go, says the RCH ap­peal is close to his heart.

‘‘The hospi­tal is very spe­cial to me be­cause my son Ni­cholas had a brain tu­mour when he was six and it grew back again when he was eight,’’ Cox says.

‘‘He’s 20 and in the clear now, but the fact is the hospi­tal saved his life — twice. The least I can do is give up a day to help out.

‘‘Vic­to­ri­ans have been un­be­liev­ably gen­er­ous in sup­port­ing fundrais­ing for the bush­fire vic­tims and I know there are peo­ple ask­ing if there’s any money left (for fundrais­ing). My gut feel­ing is that there is. It’s ab­so­lutely vi­tal Vic­to­ri­ans get be­hind the hospi­tal in the best way they can.’’

Cox, mean­while, is work­ing his Coxy’s Big Break shoot­ing sched­ule around his chemo­ther­apy treat­ment.

The treat­ment is go­ing well and doc­tors say he’s on track to make a full re­cov­ery, but there’s no deny­ing Cox and his fam­ily were rocked to their foun­da­tions in Oc­to­ber by the re­sults of scans of his bowel.

Cox had put off med­i­cal tests for five years be­cause the one-time heavy smoker feared he’d be di­ag­nosed with lung can­cer.

Asked how he felt when told about the tu­mour, Cox says, ‘‘I just thought, ‘Oh God’. It was a mas­sive shock to ev­ery­body.’’

Scans of his lungs and

liver proved clear. Doc­tors or­dered 12 rounds of chemo­ther­apy to pre­vent the dis­ease re­turn­ing. He ex­pects to get the fi­nal all-clear next month.

Doc­tors, how­ever, told him if he’d had tests sooner, they would al­most cer­tainly have found a polyp and burned it off. In­stead, they dis­cov­ered, and re­moved, a cricket ball­sized tu­mour.

‘‘I got opened up twice in two days for surgery. Thank God for mor­phine,’’ Cox adds with a wry smile.

The one-time Lit­tle River Band drum­mer con­sid­ers him­self one of the lucky ones af­ter years of ne­glect- ing his well­be­ing. Now he has be­gun a cam­paign to en­cour­age peo­ple to take bet­ter care of their health.

It’s that ev­ery­man per­sona, and be­ing pre­pared to talk openly about bowel can­cer without em­bar­rass­ment, that has doc­tors ex­cited about what he can achieve in the com­mu­nity.

‘‘I look back . . . five years I waited (to have tests done that re­vealed bowel can­cer),’’ he says. ‘‘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, ‘When will I know I’m cured’ and he said, ‘If you’re still talk­ing to me in five years’. I said, ‘Are you se­ri­ous?’ and he said, ‘Ab­so­lutely’.

‘‘My weight has dropped 24kg, I’m ex­er­cis­ing, di­et­ing prop­erly, go­ing to the gym. When I’m not hav­ing chemo, I’m feel­ing bet­ter than I have in years.

‘‘I can’t let my­self get too tired at the mo­ment, but I’m now an am­bas­sador for bowel can­cer preven­tion. I said I’d do it if I could help save one life and I was told it was some­thing that would save many lives.

‘‘I got a lovely let­ter about a guy of 52. He had a test and a colonoscopy and his wife said it (Cox talk­ing about bowel can­cer) had saved his life.

‘‘A doc­tor said I’ve saved about five lives al­ready be­cause of peo­ple com­ing in to get the tests done.’’

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 fe­cal oc­cult blood test (FOBT).

Grate­ful:

Ge­off Cox has per­sonal rea­son to back the RCH Good Fri­day Ap­peal.

Pic­ture: AN­DREW TAUBER

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