One of our heroes needs us, Riverton fire chief faces cancer battle.

March 20, 2017
Chief Joe Cooper

Chief Joe Cooper

One of our heroes needs us, Riverton fire chief faces cancer battle.

#CooperStrong.

Editorial by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

There are many people in our area who are currently fighting cancer and we apologize up front for not being able to tell every single person’s story. But, this is a story that needs to be told. One of our county’s heroes, who has been there for countless people over the years, now needs our help.

Riverton Township Fire Chief Joe Cooper was recently diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Joe put his back out lifting a bag of salt for a driveway about a month ago. After several chiropractic visits the pain was not getting any better.

“One morning we got up to go to breakfast and while he was sitting in the truck he coughed and felt a pop,” Joe’s wife, Tracy, said. “We went to the emergency room later that week and an X-ray showed a fracture in one of his thoracic vertebrae and a broken rib. When he went to follow up at his doctor the physician’s assistant thought this was not normal for someone his age and ordered blood work. After several labs and scans they determined multiple myeloma. He also did a bone marrow biopsy that will break it down to more specifics.”

Multiple myeloma is a cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell. Plasma cells help you fight infections by making antibodies that recognize and attack germs.

“The treatment as of right now is an aggressive chemo and then possibly bone marrow transplant in which they use his own bone marrow,” Tracy said.

Joe, 46, comes from a family that sees community service as a way of life. The Cooper family has been involved in the fire/rescue service, county government, township government, 4-H, early childhood education, and local history, just to name a few.

Joe, as a firefighter, has put others first, many times over family and friends. When the pager goes off, he leaves whatever he is doing — work, family functions, kids’ sporting events, etc., to help others.

Now it’s time this community helps out Joe and his family. First, and foremost, let’s keep Joe and Tracy, and their children, Courtney and Cody (and girlfriend Brett Danielle Brown) in our prayers. Let’s pray for immediate healing over this attack on this family. Let’s ask for strength as the Coopers go through this ordeal.

Treatment will likely require lots of travel. Joe will be traveling to Ann Arbor to be seen at University of Michigan Health System. Those expenses are not cheap. Let’s help them out.

Joe’s aunt, Mary Nichols, has organized meal trains to help take the burden off of the family about worrying about food. That information can be found here.

“I just can’t say enough about how much help Mary has been,” Tracy said.

Another thing that can be helpful are gas cards, to offset the cost of fuel in their travels to and from out-of-town doctor appointments. Any type of financial assistance would be appreciated, though. It can be sent directly to the Coopers at 4622 S. Morton Road, Ludington, MI 49431.

If you have any questions about other ways you can help, please contact me at [email protected] and I will relay the questions to Joe and Tracy.

God bless you, Joe Cooper, and family. We are here for you!

Doc’s Sauble River Inn of Free Soil would be hosting a fundraising spaghetti dinner for the Cooper family on Monday, April 3 at the Scottville Optimist Center. More information to come. 

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