Rare cancer survivor undertakes new fight
Marathon-running dad battles to raise awareness
A FATHER who fought off
rare form of cancer is backing a campaign to raise awareness of the disease.
Russell Cook, 54, from Stoke Poges, was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) five years ago and was fighting for his life until his son donated bone marrow.
Mr Cook has since run several marathons for the charity. He has joined medical experts in calling for improved care for MDS patients.
He said: “The bulk of MDS patients in the UK are elderly, they really do not get a look in. I thought I could get people to see there is a disease here that needs a bit of help in getting more awareness.”
Mr Cook felt increasingly tired and went to the gym to shake it off before he was diagnosed.
However, he said the harder he exercised the worse it got, until he collapsed on a rowing machine and sought medical help.
The self-employed financial planner took two years off work during which time colleagues took over running his business.
He said: “When it came to payment they would not accept anything, they were just awesome.”
Mr Cook had more than 350 blood transfusions and three bone marrow transplants. The first two transplants failed but the third, from son Luke, who was 15 at the time in 2010, was a success.
Mr Cook added: “I was pretty certain I would be dead by Christmas. Luke does not make a big song and dance of it.
“Both of my children found it hard but were troopers. They were brilliant. It is not something you want any family to go through, which is partly why I want to get the word out there.”
The dad, who says he is at his fittest for 20 years, ran three marathons earlier in the year which raised £14,500 for five charities.
A new Call to Action, launched by the MDS UK Patient Support Group and Leukaemia CARE, with support from Celgene, urges healthcare professionals to improve care and priority of MDS patients by following new guidelines, such as treating patients on their particular condition rather than age.
FIGHTER: Russell Cook runs a marathon; (inset) receiving cancer treatment