TV chip­pie de­fies di­ag­no­sis

Re­al­ity builder to write about life in the three years since he re­ceived grim news

Herald on Sunday - - WE SALUTE YOU - Carolyne Meng-Yee

Much-loved for­mer re­al­ity TV builder John “Cocksy” Cocks has out­lived his ex­piry date and is about to write a book liv­ing with ter­mi­nal can­cer.

“I was told I had two years to live. Next April it will be three and I’m still kick­ing,” he told the Her­ald on Sun­day.

“I’ve al­ways said I am not a statis­tic. I am hu­man.”

Cocksy, a star of My House, My Cas­tle, April’s An­gels, Cocksy’s Day Off and Celebrity Trea­sure Is­land, says the tu­mours on his spine and lungs have shrunk thanks to a new chemo­ther­apy drug he is on — cabozan­tinib.

“I was cho­sen to trial this drug, the side ef­fects are bru­tal. I have no en­ergy or strength and some­times my voice gets crackly. Diar­rhoea and con­sti­pa­tion — take your pick.

“I am not as fit as I can be be­cause the drugs don’t al­low you to ex­er­cise and I’ve lost my ap­petite. But I know I am bet­ter be­cause there is shrink­age which is good.”

Cocksy has also stopped drink­ing the con­tro­ver­sial wa­ter Te Kiri Gold, touted by its mak­ers as a “gamechanger” for can­cer treat­ment.

“I’m off it. They won’t al­low me to keep drink­ing it with the med­i­ca­tion. I have to be to­tally free of other drug sup­ple­ments too.”

He needs reg­u­lar scans and check­ups ev­ery three weeks.

Through his ex­pe­ri­ence, the fa­ther of three has been in­spired to write a frank ac­count of “what to ex­pect when your can­cer lives with you”.

He re­ceived the can­cer di­ag­no­sis in April 2016.

“My work­ing ti­tle at the mo­ment is ‘Can­cer Sux. Life Rulz’. It’s a prac­ti­cal guide for peo­ple with can­cer and also their fam­i­lies and friends.

“There will be some anec­do­tal stuff too. I got paid out my life in­sur­ance, my friend said, ‘Oh you lucky bas­tard.’ What he didn’t know is they give it to you when you’ve only got a year to live,” said Cocksy.

“Peo­ple ask you out and you might not be up for it so they don’t in­vite you any more. You need peo­ple around to un­der­stand you will have off days — so it’s like how to be a friend. I’ve sug­gested mum and [wife] Dana write what they’ve been go­ing through.”

A keen surfer and fish­er­man, the fa­ther of three spends most of his time at the newly built house he de­signed in Tairua. His daugh­ter Ge­or­gia lives there with him.

This year Cocksy has surfed in Fiji and hol­i­dayed in Samoa with Dana and his daugh­ters Ge­or­gia, 24, Ella, 21, and So­phie, 19. Next year is Tonga.

He re­fuses to down tools. He re­cently built a stylish “fale” to com­ple­ment his kite-shaped house and he’s about to ren­o­vate his ’60s car­a­van.

“I’m de­sign­ing a boat­shed to com­ple­ment the houses — it’s all part of the master plan,” said Cocksy.

“Ev­ery­thing I enjoy and ap­pre­ci­ate is in Tairua. If the surf is flat I go fish­ing. I live on, in and un­der the wa­ter.”

Cocksy says he never thinks about dy­ing, nor is he scared of it.

“Can­cer is liv­ing with me but I’m not liv­ing with it. As long as my ashes are half scat­tered on the rugby field in Paeroa where I grew up and played se­nior rugby and the other half is out at sea, I’ll be happy. Those are where my best mem­o­ries are.”

Can­cer is liv­ing with me but I’m not liv­ing with it. John Cocks

Photo / Doug Sher­ring

John “Cocksy” Cocks wants to give a prac­ti­cal guide for peo­ple with can­cer and their loved ones.

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