Rare can­cer sur­vivor un­der­takes new fight

Marathon-run­ning dad bat­tles to raise aware­ness

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Lor­can Lovett lor­can.lovett@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

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.

Pho­tos con­trib­uted

FIGHTER: Rus­sell Cook runs a marathon; (in­set) re­ceiv­ing can­cer treat­ment

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