Cancer survivor now worries about her brother’s cancer

Joel Stottrup / Union-Eagle Robyn Cook, second from left, with some of her Team Jason at the Relay for Life. From left are Justin Wyman, Robyn Cook, Keith Cook, Carey Steele, Neil Olson, Hannah Johnson, and Alex Robillard.

Joel Stottrup / Union-Eagle
Robyn Cook, second from left, with some of her Team Jason at the Relay for Life. From left are Justin Wyman, Robyn Cook, Keith Cook, Carey Steele, Neil Olson, Hannah Johnson, and Alex Robillard.

Robyn Cook, who many know as the manager of Princeton Health & Fitness, has a second reminder of the value of life.
Cook, 46, talked about this last Friday evening in the early hours of the Relay for Life cancer fundraiser in Princeton this past weekend. She was part of a team of walkers called Team Jason. She noted that she couldn’t stay for the whole Relay because she would be competing in the Miles for Melanoma 5K fundraiser at Como Park the next morning. Last year she took third place in her age group.
Cook, a survivor of tumor cancer in the left back portion of her brain, said that her brother, Jason Fine, 44, has the same kind of tumor in the right back portion of his brain.
In April 2013 he had a skin check, during which an enlarged lymph node was found under his left arm pit and three doctors told  him it was nothing to worry about, Cook said. But it grew to golf ball size four months ago, at which time an oncologist said there was a problem, she continued. By the time they removed the node, they found the tumor in his brain, she said.
“His cancer is very aggressive and is now on every organ … too many tumors to count,” she said. She added that the treatment that shrunk her brain tumor did not work for him, so he is undergoing an experimental or clinical trial treatment.
Cook said she wishes her brother were in Princeton rather than Scottsdale, Arizona. She said that she has two years’ worth of knowledge about cancer that she could use to help her brother if he were nearby. Cook also said she would like it if her brother could have the same doctor she had, Svetimir Markovic, at the Mayo Clinic. Cook called him “amazing, incredible.”
Cook also said she feels bad for her mother, Kathy Fine, for having two children who have been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
Cook’s brother, her only sibling, has looked to be the picture of fitness, having placed eighth in the world last year for persons over age 40 in Masters Crossfit competition.
“Today he is in the hospital,” she said, commenting about the contrast. “He has been a true inspiration for me. He’s always pushed me to work harder with my level of fitness.”
Cook added that she learned not too long about her father’s health history regarding cancer. He died in February 2013. She said his health record showed he was diagnosed with melanoma at age 47.
Cook noted that she had seven brain tumors in 2013 and had chemotherapy. Now for seven months she is in what is called NED, or no evidence of the disease. She noted that her kind of cancer is treatable but not curable.
Cook said that she is thankful for her employers Jeff Hammer and Mary Paulson for allowing her to take the time off needed to deal with her cancer and is also just thankful for life.
“I get up every morning thankful I’m alive,” she said. “I choose happiness.”
She added that she has a great family – husband Keith, daughter Hannah and stepson Austin.
“I live for today,” Cook said. “I do things that bring me joy – working, running, exercise, just being with my family.”
Cook said she has found “true happiness” because she understands that her “days could be numbered.”

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