Scott's Story of Strength

Scott's Story of Strength

Married to his high school sweetheart Jessica and dedicated to health through intense bodybuilding training, the idea of a brain tumour was the furthest thing from Scott Cook’s mind in 2009. Preparing for an April 2009 bodybuilding show was Scott’s focus in the end of 2008. “It was to be my last show before we started a family,” he explains.

Scott began experiencing some strange symptoms in 2008, including blurred vision, headaches when he would cough. In October of that year he talked to his family doctor who diagnosed an inner ear infection. But by February of 2009, the symptoms had not gone away and then on the 6th of that month, Scott collapsed in the garage at home. He couldn’t move and Jessica called Ontario’s TeleHealth line for advice on what to do – they recommended an immediate trip to the hospital in Kitchener. “I crawled to the car,” Scott remembers.

After a series of tests, including a lengthy eye exam and a CT scan, a mass was found on Scott’s brain. “By the time I got back from the scan, they had called the hospital in Hamilton and had an ambulance for me.” Scott was rushed to a health centre with a neuroscience specialty (Hamilton General) and Jessica rode in the front seat. “I thought I was going to die,” he remembers.

Upon arrival at the hospital an MRI was done and a tumour near the pineal gland and the cerebellum was found. At 6:00 am the next morning, Scott was in surgery. Over the next month Scott underwent four surgeries to diagnosis the tumour, remove as much tumour as possible, to insert a shunt, and mitigate complications from one of the surgeries. During that time Scott lost 60 pounds. “I sort of say bodybuilding saved my life because I was able to lose that weight without it affecting me too much.” Following pathology tests, Scott and his family learned the tumour was non-malignant.

In April 2009, Scott started a six-week course of radiation therapy. Following the radiation, he underwent quarterly MRIs that consistently showed the tumour shrinking. Then in mid-2010, the tumour was gone. “We were thrilled.”

brain tumour survivor scott at the 2009 spring sprint and his wifeNot long after his diagnosis, Scott and Jessica learned about Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada thanks to a poster in the hospital.

They take part in their local support group, attend Information Days and participate in Spring Sprint every year. “I did my Spring Sprint in my wheelchair and now to be able to walk it, is a great feeling,” he says.

But that wasn’t the end of Scott’s struggles to be well. Scott had to learn to walk and talk again, and he spent all of 2010 recovering – with physiotherapy, speech therapy and cognitive therapy, “I did everything that was offered and it all helped.”

 

By 2011 Scott was back in the gym and won a bodybuilding competition in November of that year.

“If it wasn’t for my wife and my family, for their support, I feel like I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Scott explains.

Today, Scott and Jessica are parents to 14-month-old Owen, and Scott feels fortunate to be able to stay home and care for his little boy.

Scott says, “I’ve always thought this but now I really believe it, ‘all you need is love.’”
 

Update, June 2017: When we met Scott at Brain Tumour Walk Kitchener-Waterloo in June 2017, he asked to share this update, “to create awareness for Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, and to instill belief and hope. With the right perspective, attitude, and support, we hold the power to overcome all odds”. 

Scott and family 2017Scott’s story has grown since this story was posted in 2012. Scott’s family has also grown, as they welcomed a beautiful, healthy daughter named Jayda in 2014.. Scott is currently ‘Daddy Daycare’ and, despite some challenges to get Scott to where he is now, he couldn't feel more appreciative. 

In 2012, Scott co-founded a charity called “Mo-Muscle”, which started as a fundraising campaign for the Movember movement, where 15 men and women from Kitchener/Waterloo competed in a bodybuilding show. It was a huge success. As a result, Scott and a fellow survivor (of testicular cancer) were able to visit various schools in their local area to empower kids about not letting fear control their lives, to take charge of their health, and their future. They also encouraged the school children to listen to their bodies, and to get a professional opinion if something felt wrong. “We don't ask for help because we are weak, but because we want to remain strong”

Scott at a competitionThe charity grew and a Guelph-based supplement company helped put on a fundraising show. With the proceeds going to people battling cancer in their community, they were able to help a man in his early 30’s who had been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer get some strength back to enjoy his last year with his daughter. Also they helped a young boy battle and beat lymphoma. The boy is now back at school and has begun to play hockey. It was an amazing time for Scott, but unfortunately the charity disbanded in 2015. 

Early in 2015, Scott spoke to his long term disability insurance provider about Mo-Muscle and his passion to give back. After months of planning, his insurance approved help and funding for him to return to work and follow his dreams. Late 2015, Scott was tested by a neurophysiologist to determine his workability and how affected he was from his experiences. The test results were a surprise. The testing results said Scott was in the 5th percentile for workability, and stated he was at grade 3 level for motor skills, knowledge, and learning. Despite this, Scott got approval to start his project. “Since that time I have done a bunch of volunteering in the personal training field. Just recently I passed my ‘canfitpro’ personal training certificate. It took 6 months and a bunch of help, but I passed. Now I am one step closer to sharing the message of fitness, health, and hope. Anything is ‘possible’.”
 

Thank you to Scott for sharing his story of strength.

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 Story posted: October 2012. Since then, Brain Tumour Awareness Month has moved to May.


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