Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Steve Cook's mesothelioma journey in Australia is over - and another sad day for the meso community...

When people meet my Steve for the first time, they are usually surprised at how well and "normal" he looks and acts, even though he has an incurable cancer.  They must wonder why we grasp at life with such vigour and are reluctant to make plans or give commitments beyond the date of his next assessment - three months at most. 

Indeed, there are times when we are so busy enjoying life that that I almost forget the time bomb ticking away inside him.  Then something happens, and we are jolted back to the horrible reality.  Another of those "wake up" calls came today, with the news that another meso warrior's journey is over.

When someone appears to be well, it's hard to appreciate that mesothelioma is a very aggressive cancer.  Once the disease flares up and takes hold, the person can go downhill very, very quickly - in a matter of weeks - even if they are a strong fighter with a very positive mental attitude, like Steve Cook in Australia.  Steve's journey started when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in May 2012. Read his blog by clicking the link on the right under "We are not alone".  

To those newly diagnosed with meso, Steve Cook wrote in his blog "keep your chin up and don’t let anyone around you be negative – they will take vibes from you, so if you are positive then they will be able to cope as well.  It is a bugger of a cancer that should never happen but there is nothing you can do about it so accept it and enjoy whatever time you have left with your loved ones"  And in between chemo regimes and chest drains, that's just what he did.  Steve and his wife Gail travelled to Canada, went skiing and sailing, renovated their house and did a lot more besides.  Awesome!  

Steve and Gail Cook flying high

Steve and Gail on the slopes

Towards the end of August this year, Steve was told that his tumour was stable except for one area of thickening outside the chest wall on the left hand side.  This would need to be investigated in case the cancer had travelled through the chest wall and was attacking the soft tissue in the muscle.  

Although subsequent tests in early September showed no evidence of malignancy, a week later in mid-September, Steve was hospitalised with breathing difficulties.  More tests revealed that the cancer appeared to have spread to the pericardium - the membrane with covers the heart and the major blood vessels.  He was told that he had a few months to live at best.  

Back in hospital again in late September, Steve found out that he had pulmonary embolisms (blockage in the artery supplying the heart); a large pleural effusion (fluid) on the right side and a partially collapsed right lung.  The mesothelioma was progressing rapidly.  Not one to be beaten easily, Steve agreed to have a pleural drain fitted and oxygen delivered so that he could go home, where the renovation work was almost completed.  He was still looking forward to a skiing trip to Canada with Gail, in December.

Steve wrote on 4 October "We are still being very positive – I firmly believe that once the pleural drain is put in, I will get my breathing under control – this rotten cancer will get me in the end but I intend to go out kicking and enjoying life with Gail and all our family and friends while we can – there will be enough time for tears later on – not now"  And then he and Gail went off on a cruise around Tasmania, caught up with family and friends and "had a ball" to use his words.

Sadly, during the last week of October Steve's health deteriorated further and he needed oxygen most of the time, except when seated or lying down doing nothing at all.  The trip to Canada was cancelled.  However, after a few days of feeling better, Steve wrote in his blog on 30 October, "all in all a positive few  days – let’s hope that all this works and will give me some quality of life for whatever time I have left. Still feeling positive – a good  mental attitude always helps to overcome or to cope with physical problem" 

....Those words gave us all hope.  Hope which was dashed today with the news that he had died at 4.30 pm, Oz time. We all knew it was inevitable, but Steve's untimely death only twelve short weeks since he was told his condition was stable, still came as a shock.  Our heart goes out to Gail and his family and friends, in Australia and in the cyber world.

I would not usually dwell on the death of a meso warrior. None of us - with or without mesothelioma - likes to be reminded of our mortality. However, Steve Cook's determination to enjoy life to the full, fight cancer and stay positive is lesson for us all - and a message that deserves to be broadcast widely.  

So with tears in my eyes, a heavy heart but the utmost admiration for your positivity, courage and inspiration, I dedicate today's blog to you Steve and your support team in Australia, with much love and respect from your namesake in the UK, Steve and his wife Linda xx

Cheers, mate


  1. I have known Steve just after he started this terrible journey and am shocked, saddened and heartbroken that his fight ended so fast. It is unexpected but from the experiences we have gone through, especially this year, we are seeing how this cancer can be stable one day and deadly the next. My thoughts are with Gail and the family as well as all of us fighting this cancer, our daily lives make look normal but inside we know things aren't as good as they seem.

  2. We feel that we have been given an excellent example of how to face the inevitable. You made the worst we will all face seem bearable
    Thanks Steve.
    It was an honour knowing you!
    We will have to see Gail to give her the hugs.
    Dale and Doug