Coxy’s big wake-up
Treatment for bowel cancer has launched a crusade, writes Darren Devlyn
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).
Geoff Cox has personal reason to back the RCH Good Friday Appeal.
Picture: ANDREW TAUBER