This month I talk to Gislingham resident, Kevin Cook, who lost his teenage son, Jack, to cancer on February 7th 2015; about Jack, the Teenage Cancer Trust and his plans to run the London Marathon on 22nd April.
JN: Let’s start with the most important part of all this – Jack! Tell us a bit about Jack.
KC: Well of course I am biased, but his friends described him as “the loveliest lad with a beautiful smile.” I guess you’d describe him as a typical teenage boy, he loved sports, socialising, music, girls, holidays (especially Florida). He was doing a horticultural course at Otley College and wanted to be a Groundsman at Portman Road. He loved Ipswich Town F.C.
JN: When was Jack first diagnosed with cancer?
KC: Jack was 13 when he was diagnosed. The family had just begun a holiday in America when it became clear he was not feeling well. He could not walk further than 10 steps and he did not want to do anything. So, on the fourth day we went to an emergency clinic where a blood test was taken and, within two hours of arriving at the clinic, he was diagnosed with leukemia.
Jack had fainted at school but there had been no obvious signs he was about to be diagnosed with cancer.
JN: How did Jack handle his cancer?
KC: Jack handled his cancer brilliantly and I am so proud of him.
It was horrible when he was diagnosed, but Jack, who hated needles, put up with countless injections. He was very strong during his chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and he was a very brave teenager. He courageously dealt with the impacts, even fundraising while he was receiving treatment at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. He spent three years fighting the cancer, and went into remission, only for it to return.
In October 2014, he raised money for Bloodwise, formerly Leukemia and Lymphoma Research, by taking part in the Ipswich Big Fun Run. Jack, in a wheelchair, and his best friend, Lewis Whatling, smashed their £300 target for the 5k run, raising £1,120.
JN: Kevin, as we approach the third anniversary of Jack’s passing; how have you coped?
KC: I don’t know, how do you cope?
We agreed for tests to be carried out on Jack to help with maybe finding a cure for leukemia. That is a comfort. I’ve also thrown myself into supporting the Teenage Cancer Trust with organising local fund-raising events. The TCT have also been a great help to me on a personal level, to help me cope with the loss. And of course, my family my friends, help me every day.