Tony “Bubba” Cochrane spent many years working with tires weighing 6 tons or greater.
The news he received Feb. 1, however, felt a lot heavier.
After doctors had given him different reasons for his health issues over the past two and a half years, a visit to the Schneck Medical Center emergency room finally revealed what really was wrong.
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The 57-year-old Vallonia man’s wife, Tina Cochrane, convinced him to go to the ER in hopes that something could be done for his jaundice.
Taking a quick glance at Tony, the doctor said, “Sir, if you don’t mind, can I run a series of tests on you? By looking at you, you either have liver cancer or you’ve got pancreatic cancer.”
The tests revealed he had pancreatic cancer.
Tina said her husband had been having severe diarrhea and was losing weight fast since the fall of 2019. His doctor later told him he was diabetic and changed his medicine several times before sending him to an endocrinologist at the beginning of the year.
“He was at this time green as the Hulk with jaundice. He was that green,” Tina said of Tony.
Another doctor thought Tony could have thyroid issues, so he was referred to another specialist.
Tony used to weigh 289 pounds and is now at 164 and doesn’t always have a good appetite. Once he was diagnosed with cancer, he had to quit his job as a truck driver for Lawyer Excavation Inc. in Seymour.
“It was a lot easier on me,” he said, smiling about that work compared to moving large tires. “They took me off work, and they haven’t let me go back yet. They shut me down right away.”
Not being able to work on top of taking expensive medication has been a struggle, and Tony’s friends jumped into action to help him and his wife.
A raffle is underway for a guitar furnished by Burton’s Maplewood Farm in Medora and This Old Guitar Music Store in Seymour. It is autographed by Seymour native and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Mellencamp.
Tickets are $5 each or five for $20 and may be purchased at This Old Guitar Music Store and Jackson County Visitor Center in Seymour, both Dollar General locations in Brownstown, Denny’s Grocery in Freetown, Burton’s Maplewood Farm in Medora and Farmer’s Market in Bedford.
Raffle tickets also may be purchased through PayPal by sending payment to firstname.lastname@example.org and including name and phone number in the notes section. The tickets will be filled out, and a picture will be sent via text. The account is linked to the Bubba Cochrane Benefit savings account at State Bank of Medora.
All funds raised will go toward Tony’s medical and living expenses. Tony will draw the winning raffle ticket on his birthday, July 3. The winner will be announced at 8 p.m. on the Tony “Bubba” Cochrane Facebook page.
Tim Burton got the idea to do a fundraiser after seeing posts about Tony by his longtime friend, Donnie Jones, on Facebook. All three men went to school in Medora at the same time.
“Donnie was posting things up on Facebook letting people know what was going on,” Burton said. “I didn’t know that Bubba was dealing with issues. Because of Donnie, that’s how (the fundraiser) all kind of organically started to happen.”
A mutual friend of Burton and Larry McDonald, owner of This Old Guitar Music Store, was contacted to get a guitar autographed by Mellencamp.
“We’re hoping we can squeeze as much out of this thing as possible to help Bubba and Tina out,” Burton said of the raffle.
“We are appreciative of anything anybody does,” Tina said. “We have had some very good people, (Tony) has got some very good friends, and they have been very good to us. Donations we’ve lived on since everybody found out, that’s what paid our electric bill, that’s what put food in our house.”
Jackson County native
Tony and Donnie became friends when Donnie moved to Medora for school in sixth grade.
In high school, they played baseball and basketball and participated in cross country and track.
“I used to pitch and he was my catcher,” Donnie said of Tony and him playing baseball together.
Later on, after working at a gas station in Brownstown for several years, Tony was given an opportunity to work for the Schrader tire business in Greenville, Ohio.
“When I started changing those tires, I made $6 an hour,” Tony said.
He wound up working there for 15 years.
“Seeing a technician replace a tire, it is an art form,” Burton said. “To see these guys work and use their equipment, it’s amazing.”
One time, a large tire got away from Tony and hit him, forcing him to roll under a truck.
“That finished my job,” he said. “I had to have my back operated on.”
Battling through health issues
Tony later battled sugar issues for nearly three years, trying different medicines to keep his levels in line.
After his cancer diagnosis, he was sent to Indianapolis to have a stent put in near his pancreas and gallbladder to drain it off.
Tony then saw an oncologist at the Don and Dana Myers Cancer Center in Seymour and began taking chemotherapy treatments. A couple of months ago, he found out his pancreatic cancer is Stage 3.
A couple of weeks ago, however, he stopped treatments because they weren’t working.
“It has spread to his spine, and it’s in his bone now,” Tina said.
Tony recently had a DNA test and a PET scan done and hopes to have the results this week. Tina said the DNA test will reveal if the cancer is hereditary or environmental and will determine what type of radiation he can have.
“They are going to have to change his whole treatment,” Tina said. “I hope they do it soon because he’s in severe pain right now.”
The pain is in his back.
“It just hit me all of a sudden,” Tony said. “It’s just like someone is taking a big long spike, drilling a 50-pound sledge (into his back) all the time.”
He also is having stomach pain.
“If they push in the right spots, I just about come off the table,” Tony said.
Going through all of his health issues, Tony finds a way to push forward, even though it’s hard sometimes. His mother died of bladder cancer that turned into bone cancer when she was 63, and his brother died of esophageal cancer at 59.
“I just deal with it,” Tony said. “I’ve had friends had cancer and passed away. It’s just something I’ve always told myself, ‘You’ve got to deal with it. If it ever happens, you’ve got to deal with it.’”
He has been fortunate to have family and friends show their support. That includes people locally and even friends in Muncie and Ohio.
“I’ve got a lot of good friends,” he said. “To have somebody backing you up and you know it, it makes me feel wonderful. I’ve got people that I can call, like Donnie. Any time day or night, I can call them.”
At a glance
A raffle is underway for a guitar furnished by Burton’s Maplewood Farm in Medora and This Old Guitar Music Store in Seymour autographed by John Mellencamp.
Tickets are $5 each or five for $20 and may be purchased at This Old Guitar Music Store, 106 W. Second St., and the Jackson County Visitor Center, 100 N. Broadway St., in Seymour; Dollar General, 1301 Woodside Drive and 215 S. Main St. in Brownstown; Denny’s Grocery, 4727 E. State Road 58 in Freetown; Burton’s Maplewood Farm, 8121 W. County Road 75S in Medora; and Farmer’s Market, 6124 E. U.S. 50 in Bedford.
Raffle tickets also may be purchased through PayPal by sending payment to email@example.com and including name and phone number in the notes section.
All funds raised will go toward Tony “Bubba” Cochrane’s medical and living expenses. The 57-year-old Vallonia man is battling Stage 3 pancreatic cancer.
Cochrane will draw the winning raffle ticket on his birthday, July 3. The winner will be announced at 8 p.m. on the Tony “Bubba” Cochrane Facebook page.
For other ways to help Cochrane and his wife, Tina, contact Donnie Jones at 812-521-1276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.