By Heather Grace, IPJ Staff Writer
met Doug Cook through his wife Radene Marie Cook, a fellow patient with severe constant pain who became my best friend. Yes, Doug is her caregiver. He has helped Radene navigate the hell that is Intractable Pain since 2000. Unlike most spouses, he stayed after her injury instead of fleeing in terror. The vows they exchanged actually meant something. Though it’s truly sad, loved ones leave when someone gets seriously ill and doesn’t get better. But not Doug. For that reason alone, he is exceptional.
That’s just where the story begins, however. Doug Cook has a quiet way about him that somehow speaks volumes, the more you get to know him. I’d know him for a while before I really saw Doug in action, at the 2010 Women In Pain Conference. Though Radene & I helped put the conference together and were also speakers, Doug Cook was the one who was a huge part of the success of the event.
He arrived hours early, bringing art and other supplies. Doug backed up his SUV, unloading and arranging everything, including beautiful art that was created for the event by For Grace’s Artist in Residence, Radene Marie Cook. Afterward, he spent at least 90 minutes aiding CEO John Garrett with conference design/setup, moving the large conference tables and nearly 200 chairs, ensuring there was plenty of room for everyone to move freely through the space. Even as the event was about to begin, Doug focused on helping people get from the parking lot to the registration area. (Myself included!)
At that point, it hit me. Doug was caring for everyone–ensuring all the people who needed help got it. He continued his efforts throughout the day, helping anyone who needed it. Holding doors for people, moving chairs so that anyone with a wheelchair did not have difficulty getting where they needed to go… doing anything people needed help with.
In his quiet way, Doug has helped make the event a seemingly-effortless success. Not because he was paid to do so–in fact he has volunteered his time. Doug Cook is one of those people with a huge heart; a natural-born caregiver. This innate quality is extraordinary in today’s world, to be sure.
And the conference is just one day among the thousands where Doug gives and gives and gives. When he isn’t assisting Radene, his parents or mother-in-law–or working a full-time job–Doug dedicates a great deal of his time to helping others. He’s been active in his community for many years, doing things like painting over graffiti and ensuring the neighborhood is safe. He spends much of his free time making the world a better place, because that’s who he is.
In 2011, Doug Cook received a Shire BRAVE Award for caregivers. The BRAVE Awards are the first and only to honor the courage and dedication of non-professional caregivers, the everyday heroes who provide regular and consistent care for other people. Out of nearly 400 nominations, Doug and 14 others were honored. Read more about the annual award at http://www.shirebraveawards.com.
In addition to being an award-winning caregiver, Doug has also become a dedicated advocate and speaker. Doug spoke about caregiving at two national conferences in 2012, including the Woman In Pain Conference.
Caregiver. Advocate. Speaker. Award-Winner. Community Leader. Doug Cook is an ‘unsung hero’ that deserves to have his praises sung today and everyday.
So Doug, thank you for all the things you’ve done and continue to do–great and small, noticed or not. Read more about Doug Cook in the caregiver story by ABC News.
About The Author
Heather Grace is an Intractable Pain Sufferer, Writer & Advocate. She’s Co-Director of the 501c3 nonprofit Intractable Pain Patients United (http://www.ippu.info), has been a Speaker/Conference Planner at For Grace’s (http://www.forgrace.org) annual Women in Pain Conference and is a Pain Ambassador for the U.S. Pain Foundation (http://uspainfoundation.org).
© 2011-2015 Intractable Pain Journal & Heather Grace. All rights reserved.