Over a two-year period, I witnessed first-hand the unspeakably difficult road young sarcoma patients are forced to travel. The diagnosis is simply the beginning. This cancer is particularly cruel both physically and mentally, and this is particularly so when it is your child you are watching
suffer so brutally, and without respite.
One of the most distressing aspects of this diagnosis is the fact there are currently no answers, and as Cooper was told weeks after just turning seventeen, “treatment options are like a box of smarties…you try the red ones, then the blue ones etc, until you find the one that works”. No patient should ever begin their treatment protocol with that level of mental uncertainty.
Despite the fact Australia is home to some of the most brilliant global medical minds , a cure for sarcoma remains elusive, largely due to a dire lack of funding. Cooper selflessly shared his story, and addressed philanthropists, friends, sporting groups, and schools alike, to heighten awareness of sarcoma, and to raise the critical funding required for change. He also had very specific ideas as to pipeline treatments suppressed due to funding. These are often not addressed in mainstream cancer institutions, and as were to discover, when there are no remaining options, pipeline research projects provide hope. It is suffice to say, Cooper would never close his mind to generic cancer treatment options, and always fought for the greater good of all rare cancer patients, with an accent on sarcoma.
Over three decades have passed without quantifiable mortality improvements, with statistical data showing signs of increased diagnosis.
Cooper’s courage in the face of extreme adversity will remain with me every minute of every day, as I vow to continue the outstanding work he began. If we can prevent one young patient, and their family from recounting the memories that haunt me daily, and the helplessness I felt and still feel, then I would consider we are doing our job well.