Vince Cooney, Sr., laughs at a family cookout. Cooney passed away from stage four glioblastoma in October 2012.

Duxbury family raises money for cancer research, cure

Almost a year after losing their husband, father and grandfather, the three Cooney families are getting together to raise money for brain cancer research through the Jimmy Fund Walk with one goal: to erase the heartache families have to endure after losing a loved one to cancer.

Vince Cooney, Sr., passed away from stage four glioblastoma, the most common form of malignant brain cancer in adults, in October 2012 at 72 years old. Vince, who was married to his wife, Mary, for 43 years, was diagnosed with the cancer in the summer of 2012 after he started experiencing difficulty transcribing numbers at work, where he was a bookkeeper. At a family cookout not long thereafter, Vince’s daughter-in-law, Nancy, took him to South Shore Hospital after he expressed that he was not feeling well.

Vince, who ate lunch with his sons every day at work, was diagnosed with brain cancer on Saturday, July 14, 2012 and went in for brain surgery that following Thursday. After six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation, it looked to be in the clear and the family took a celebratory trip to Bermuda. One week after returning, Vince passed away.

“It was so fast,” Nancy said. “He went from running the company to being gone and it has been really tough on the whole family.”

To honor the memory of Vince, the Cooneys decided to raise money and participate in the Jimmy Fund Walk on Sunday, Sept. 8. So far, they have raised over $3,500 as part of team Neuro, a team focused on raising funds specifically for glioblastoma research. On the team are some of Vince’s doctors.

“We are excited to have the chance to walk with his doctors and to thank them for all they did for him in the three months of this battle,” Nancy said. “As hard as it is going to be, everyone at the Jimmy Fund has been absolutely amazing to us and it’s our chance to say thank you and do our part to end this disease.”

Vince’s three sons, Matthew, David and Vince II, all live in Duxbury with their wives and children, and all three families are joining together to raise as much money as possible before the walk. The children will be holding a lemonade sale and the family will be holding a yard sale this coming Saturday, Aug. 10 at 42 Christina Ct. All the proceeds from the lemonade and yard sale will go to the Jimmy Fund.

“Having the kids do the lemonade stand will help them feel like they can contribute to this cause,” Nancy said. “All seven of the grandchildren called him ‘Papa.’ He was so sweet and good to them that they want to help out any way they can.”

For the Cooneys, Nancy said the most difficult thing was not having the time to come to grips with the diagnosis.

“He was the best, most caring father,” she said. “He was the gentle, unassuming center of our family and we all feel he was taken away too quickly.”

In some ways, Nancy believes his untimely passing was a blessing in disguise. For many brain cancer patients, the struggle becomes overwhelming and quite brutal, and she believes he was able to escape that suffering.

“It can take all your dignity away,” she said. “So in some ways, he was protected from that, but it’s still such a heartbreaker.”

With a fundraising goal in mind, the Cooneys’ main goal is to make sure no family ever has to suffer the heartbreak of losing a loved one to such an aggressive disease.

“I know it is a small contribution that we are making,” Nancy said. “But we are making a contribution and we feel blessed to have the opportunity to work towards taking away the heartache we feel.”