TV chippie defies diagnosis
Reality builder to write about life in the three years since he received grim news
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
John “Cocksy” Cocks wants to give a practical guide for people with cancer and their loved ones.