by: Natasha Chen Updated:FEDERAL WAY, Wash. —
An 18-year-old, told by doctors he may only have weeks to live, celebrated at an early graduation ceremony Thursday night. Dominique Cooks, who has an inoperable brain tumor, got his diploma at Decatur High School. Next to him was his twin sister, Diamonique Cooks.
Before the ceremony, Dom Cooks told KIRO 7 about his battle with cancer. “I’ve just been battling that for two years or whatever and recently went to the doctor’s. The tumor had spread. It’s everywhere in my brain. It’s pretty bad,” Dom Cooks said. But Dom isn’t one to let that get him down. In his interview and during the graduation ceremony planned just for him and his sister, Dom cracked joke after joke.
Some of the teachers who spoke at the ceremony were brought to tears. Genie Stovick, one of Dom Cooks' teachers, had trouble finishing her sentences. Finally Stovick said, “The fact that you are ill might be about the least important and the least interesting thing that there is to know about you.”
The tears didn’t last long. Dom’s random outbursts and jokes during his speech kept the hundreds of people laughing. “I just want to thank everyone for showing up, coming out, you know what I’m saying? I feel like a rapper with his mic in my hand,” Dom said to the crowd.
The uplifting mood was helped by the surprise appearance of Doug Baldwin of the Seahawks. He presented Dom and his sister with jerseys. Baldwin talked about the time he met Dom during the football season. “I was blessed with the opportunity to meet this wonderful man. And the first thing he said to me was, ‘Aww, you’re not so big,’” Baldwin said. He told the crowd it did not take him long to realize what a special character Dom Cooks was.
Dom told KIRO 7 he’s going to beat the cancer and get well enough to play basketball again. His family and friends are buoyed by his optimism. His twin sister said she knows every day is precious. “When people give you bad news, just live your life to the fullest. I have not seen him down - not one day,” she said.