FAIRBANKS — Just because he was the premier fundraiser in the nation for the American Cancer Society’s 2017 Real Men Wear Pink campaign doesn’t mean that Jeff Cook is done fighting cancer.
Humbled by the local donations that helped him raise $120,000 to take the top spot among more than 3,100 fundraisers, he is advocating for national cancer-fighting agencies. Last week, he and his daughter Chrissy were honored when Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska praised his national fundraising efforts on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
“It was definitely an honor to be selected as Sen. Sullivan’s Alaskan of the Week,” Cook said. “It was humbling and gratifying to have the tribute done on the Senate floor, broadcast live on C-SPAN and then (included) in the Congressional Record.”
For about 12 minutes, the senator told Cook’s story. It all began with the devastating phone call from his 34-year-old daughter who said she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and who was a positive match for the BRCA2 gene, which increases the risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer.
Consequently, the Cooks made sure everyone in their family got tested for that gene. Sadly, five other family members tested positive. They are being monitored regularly.
Cook and two of his children — Jon Cook and Melissa Sawchuk — will travel to Seattle at the end of the week for a Cancer Summit sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Cook also has agreed to work with the BRCA Foundation out of San Francisco and with Facing Our Cancer Empowered, a lobbying group for cancer treatment and research based in Washington, D.C.
Meanwhile, Chrissy underwent 12 weeks of chemo and she is recovering from the first phase of reconstructive surgery after a double mastectomy.
“Despite her cancer being diagnosed last March, Chrissy has made it to the gym 165 times,” he said. “Her attitude is incredible, and, of course, that is helped by the tremendous response and support from so many people.”
Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at firstname.lastname@example.org. Call her at the office 459-7546. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.