Zane was in the process of buying his first house when everything he ate made him sick. Initially, the doctor thought Zane had ulcers, which Darlene said made sense because there were a lot of changes ahead for him.
As the symptoms continued, they took him to Washington County Hospital in October 2010, where he was diagnosed with gastric cancer, and sent to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
The disease started in his stomach and spread to his colon, lymph nodes and liver. It was a stage 4 cancer by the time it was discovered, Darlene said.
“We found a lot of kindness during his illness, between family, friends and work,” Darlene said.
Co-workers at Manitowoc Co. did raffles and various fundraisers to help Zane with medical expenses. Zane was so sick, though, that he no longer could work, although he talked about when he could get back on the job.
Even after his cancer diagnosis, Zane and an uncle talked about getting additional training together to help them advance in their jobs, Tabitha said.
Zane had a steady stream of visitors throughout his illness. Even though his doctors said most patients diagnosed with gastric cancer live only four to five months beyond the diagnosis, Zane fought the disease for 20 months.
At his last doctor’s appointment, Zane was told of the possibility of joining a clinical trial for experimental medications.
“He was astounding his doctors,” Darlene said.
Tabitha, who is a licensed practical nurse, came before and after work to give Zane his shots.
“We’ve always been there for each other. We’re a close-knit family,” Tabitha said. “When I found out he was sick, I didn’t want anyone else taking care of him.”
Throughout his illness, Zane never lost his sense of humor and mischievous side.
“He made it really easy on my mom and I to take care of him,” Tabitha said. “He made it a part of life, not ‘poor me.’”
Darlene said he always was teasing the nurses, and even at the height of his illness, he would pull pranks on Darlene and Donna.
“He was mischievous, he really was,” Donna said. “At the same time, he was loving and caring. He worried about his family and friends.”
Zane had been involved in the family’s church, Mount Vernon Christian & Missionary Alliance Church in Shippensburg, Pa., when he was younger. Darlene said he had wanted to attend church, but it took several hours each morning after taking his medications before he could get up and not be nauseated.
During the winter months of his illness, the Tuesday night prayer group at the church would visit him.
“He was on a lot of prayer lists,” Donna said.
Zane had a private side, as well as being fiercely independent.
“There was a very serious side to Zane,” Donna said. “He was very determined. I’d tell him he was such a hardhead.”
Looking back, Darlene said there were times she wondered how she was going to get through “willful” phases of raising Zane. In hindsight, it was that willfulness that helped him battle cancer.
“He never complained, never said, ‘Why me?’ He said, ‘I’m going to fight it.’” Darlene said.
Darlene said six months after his diagnosis, Zane traded his motorcycle for an Eagle Talon that he was going to “soup up” when he got better. Derek, a mechanic by trade, and Zane talked about opening a garage together to build high-performance cars when Zane got better, Darlene said.
“He never, ever gave up,” Donna said. “It wasn’t a side of Zane. He wanted to be strong around his family and friends. He never lost faith.”
Editor’s note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail runs “A Life Remembered.” Each story in this continuing series takes a look back — through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others — at a member of the community who died recently. Today’s “A Life Remembered” is about Zane A. Cook, who died June 17 at the age of 27. His obituary was published in the June 20 edition of The Herald-Mail.