Clifford (Cliff) Cook, 72, strives to inspire and comfort his fellow patients during appointments reminding others they are not alone in their battle.
In 2019 Cliff was driving north when he received the call that changed his life. He was diagnosed with Stage lll Gastric Adenocarcinoma (Stomach Cancer).
“My first thought was, ‘how am I going to fight this thing?’ I already battled prostate cancer in 2005. I sat in my car pondering what to do next. I looked up, and saw a sporting goods store, and made my decision.”
“I walked right into the store and bought red boxing gloves. At that moment I chose to fight my cancer.”
Ready for whatever punch was thrown his way next, Cliff put on his boxing gloves, prepared to knockout his cancer.
When walking through Cancer & Hematology Centers of Western Michigan’s (CHCWM) Infusion Center, you can spot Cliff from across the room with his bright red gloves, Rocky Balboa cardboard cutout, and inflatable punching bag.
Patients that cross paths with Cliff can take their shot at hitting cancer in the face on the punching bag or trying on his boxing gloves to gain courage, control, and inspiration.
“Just decided to wear them every single visit. Blood draws, treatments, surgeries, infusion, you name it.”
When asked about his treatment with CHCWM, Cliff lit up talking about his care team.
“I beat my stomach cancer back in 2020 and I was seeing Dr. Chandana.”
But when his cancer came back in 2021, Cliff dusted off his boxing gloves for another round.
“I came to CHCWM because Dr. Chandana was my oncologist. He was amazing. Dr. Chandana referred me to Dr. Sharma who is a specialist in Gastro and then I found out he also did trial studies. I thought, ‘This is perfect. He is the guy.’ I felt I was in good hands.” He said with a satisfied smile.
Dr. Sharma was quick to express his admiration in return. “Cliff always brings a smile to my face when I walk in to see him, and he is wearing his boxing gloves. He inspires both his care team and other patients/caregivers with his positive attitude when it comes to overcoming adversity related to his cancer. I feel like his ringside coach, and I am proud to be in his corner as he fights this cancer!”
Cliff’s goal is to deliver smiles to his care team, and patients around him with flowers at every appointment.
“My experience with CHCWM has been phenomenal and excellent. Everyone treats me well. That’s the reason I hand out the flowers. I’m grateful for the treatment I receive medically, but personally as well.”
“It’s a small token of my appreciation of what they do for me and others. With hope, it brightens their day”, he said.
When Cliff isn’t busy knocking out cancer with his boxing gloves, he spends his downtime with his wife Connie, their children, and grandchildren.
Every week he mails out homemade postcards with knock-knock jokes to his grandchildren to make them laugh and to stay in touch.
He is a passionate member of the Muskegon Yarn Spinners and Grand Rapids Story Spinners. A club for diverse storytellers dedicated to traditional art forms of story crafting, storytelling, and listening.
When asked what he would like people to know about cancer, Cliff replied, “My way of fighting cancer is I believe in the power of prayer and humor. Have an attitude of gratitude but also fight. God gave me a life to live, and I want to live it to the fullest.”
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Contact Information: Becky Byers, CHCWM Marketing Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org, 616-389-1712)