A fighter by nature, John knew how to battle. Not only did he serve in the military, but he also went on to own a gym where he trained mixed martial arts fighters. Those were all valuable skills he used every day since his diagnosis in 2018. John’s prognosis was never good. However, he never let it change who he was, and he never stopped smiling.
“My motto is always leave ‘em laughing,” John told us back in February of 2021. “When I go in for treatment, I’m not thinking about having to sit there for five hours and having them put all this medicine in me. I’m thinking about, how can I make my nurse crack a smile?”
Through almost five years of painful trials and treatments, John stayed brave and never gave up an opportunity to use his story to help others. In fact, he became an advocate.
“When my friends, especially my male friends, that are around my age ask ‘hey, what can I do for you?’ The first thing I say is, ‘have you got a test yet?’ If they tell me no, I say, go get a test, that’s what you can do for me.”
John admitted he ignored symptoms and didn’t know his full family history. “You need to go [to the doctor.] You need to go when you’re 35 and not 50. OK? 50 is when you get it. I probably had cancer for a few years, but I waited and walked in, and I was stage four,” he said. “I don’t care if it costs you what you’ve got in your savings account. Take it out of your savings account. Use your insurance. Whatever. Go to the Cleveland Clinic. Get the bloodwork done. Go find out what you’ve got if anything and pray you don’t have this.”
Together, he and Tracy also made sure to keep Fox 8 viewers updated on his treatments, both through social media and on the air. From day one, so many reached out with their own stories and words of encouragement. That’s something John and Tracy never took for granted.
“It really is like a gigantic club,” John once said. “It’s a huge gang of people that have one thing in common. I didn’t realize the scope of just how powerful this group of people is at supporting each other. It’s absolutely amazing.”
Always moving forward, John was always prepared for his next fight. The self-proclaimed “cancer sniper,” he knew attitude was everything and, like a true fighter, made his prognosis his motivation. “I wanted to see what the record was for how long somebody lived with stage four cancer like mine,” he said last February. “It was like 17 years or 18 years. I was like, ‘Yeah I’ve got to crush that record.’ So, I’m going to crush that record and sign the Guinness Book!”
Through chemo and surgeries, John maintained his fighter mentality, with the three loves of his life by his side: his daughter Cassidy, son Carter, and wife Tracy.
John and Tracy met at Copley High School back in 1986. When they graduated, they went their separate ways, but fate brought them back together and they married in 2002.
John has been part of the Fox 8 family for Tracy’s entire Cleveland career. Quite the character himself, John never passed up a chance to “pop in” or surprise Tracy, either in a pre-recorded message or live on the air.
In 2011, John participated in the “Spouse in the House” edition of Fox 8 News in the Morning, where he switched roles with Scott Sabol. Scott showed John how to do the weather, and John taught Scott a little bit of MMA. John’s personality shined through, and Fox 8 viewers began to know him by name.
There were also plenty of times he’d call up a Fox 8 producer and ask if he or the kids could do something special for her to surprise Tracy on her birthday or “just because.” He never stopped doing that.
John fought hard every single day since his diagnosis. Knowing he was dealing with an uphill battle, he tried every treatment and applied for every trial to, in his words, “choke out the cancer.” He pushed through to soak up every possible minute with Tracy and the kids.
“There has been some good that’s come from [cancer],” John about a year after his diagnosis. “I think I’ve become a little bit more humble. I have value in other things, the important things, like the time I spend with my kids and the time I spend with my wife.”
John was 53 years old. We send our love to Tracy, Cassidy, and Carter, and we know how much all of your messages and prayers mean to their family.
Anyone wanting to send a card or their sympathies to Tracy McCool and family can use this address: Fox 8 News, 5800 South Marginal Road, Cleveland, Ohio, 44103.