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Ben Finds Happiness Through his Greyhound Amid Cancer Battle

WATCH: The candid vision of Ben Cookson watching his greyhound ‘Berzerk’ race at The Meadows. 

Ben Cookson went berserk two weeks ago at The Meadows when the greyhound he has a share in ‘Berzerk’ won.

The vision of Ben cheering his beloved greyhound home is heart-warming in itself but when looking at the entire story, the vision is profound. This candid vision represents something more than just a greyhound race, it’s indicative of finding joy in a difficult situation

Ben, just 31, was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer in 2014. Throughout his treatment his father Shane, took nine-months leave from work to be by his side and keep him strong. They went to the footy, travelled to Perth and Brisbane to support the Brisbane Lions,  played golf and also went to The Meadows on Wednesday’s to watch the greyhounds.

From knowing how much enjoyment Ben got from greyhound racing, John Honey (Ben’s uncle) suggested getting a syndicate together to purchase a greyhound for him.

Ben loves to watch greyhounds race, his mother Joanne says.

“I can honestly say that when we’re at the greyhounds, you’d never know that anything was wrong with him. The greyhound just brings him so much pleasure.”

For a family, going through a situation such as this is traumatising. Cancer breaks families. The strength and resilience shown by the family is truly remarkable. Joanne says that it’s a roller-coaster ride but seeing her son happy has been invaluable and that they remain hopeful with each new day.

“We were told in February that Ben was’ cancer free’ and everyone including his oncologist was amazed with his progress. Then just six weeks later we received the news the cancer was back. It’s  just incredibly hard, it turns your whole life upside down.

“Through the hard times, moments of happiness and joy are savoured not only for Ben, but for his family as well.

“Nothing compares or comes close to the experience of watching how happy Ben is when watching his greyhound. It is amazing seeing him so happy. Watching the greyhound is something that I know is guaranteed to lift his spirits.” (Joanne Cookson)

“Nothing compares or comes close to the experience of watching how happy Ben is when watching his greyhound. It is amazing seeing him so happy. Watching the greyhound is something that I know is guaranteed to lift his spirits.”

Ben has travelled all across Victoria to watch his greyhound race, including a 220km drive from his home-town of Eltham to Sale to watch Berzerk run third.

It doesn’t matter where the greyhound finishes, just watching him run is something that brings immense joy to him.

The story of how Ben came to own a share in Berzerk is also interesting.

Through family-friend Ralph Horowitz (commonly known as Racetrack Ralphy), Ben’s uncle got in touch with Seona and Jason Thompson. They wanted to see whether they could purchase a greyhound from them, or perhaps be steered in the right direction.

After hearing Ben’s story, Seona and Jason decided to gift Ben a share in the greyhound, Berzerk, whose kennel-name is now ‘Benny’.

It was a gesture borne from seeing how wonderful the family was. Seona remembers striking up an instant rapport with Joanne and from there the relationship has kept growing.

“A friend of ours asked whether we may have a greyhound that someone could buy a share in and we said we’d look into it,” Seona remembers.

“Then a couple of months went by and I got a call from Ben’s uncle John asking if the family could come to our property and have a look at a greyhound.”

The whole family ventured to the Pearcedale property and weren’t sure what to expect. Sure enough, they were impressed by the property and fell in love with the greyhounds.

Seona says she felt an immediate connection with them and knew that they were good people.

“Jason was out trialling that day, but I spoke to him and told him how wonderful the family was. He said if you feel comfortable with them we can give them a share for free.”

It was a funny situation, because the Cookson’s had a budget for purchasing a greyhound, which was a little more than was initially discussed.

“They said they had a particular amount of money to spend to which Joanne responded ‘we have more’,” Seona laughed recalling the face Jo’s husband made.

“We didn’t want to take any money from them for a greyhound so instead we offered them a share in Benny.”

Through the greyhound, the families have become even closer and share regular dinners together as well as nights at the track watching Benny race.   Joanne and Shane are extremely grateful for the love, care and support shown to Ben by the Thompson Family.

Berzerk will race in a heat of the Group 1 Harrison-Dawson this Thursday night at Sandown Park and Ben will be there passionately cheering his greyhound on.

PIC: Berzerk winning at The Meadows. [Inset] Ben Cookson. Photos from Facebook.

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