A Palmerston North cancer awareness campaign has received a boost from a well known former All Black captain.
Wayne “Buck” Shelford was back on Thursday, supporting the “Team George” cancer awareness push.
It’s named after Palmerston North Kia Toa rugby stalwart George Ponga, who died from prostrate cancer, aged 56, on November 29.
In the city to speak to a men’s health event in the Marist clubrooms last night, Shelford met with Ponga’s daughters and “Team George” organisers, Margaret Ponga and Jessica Tiraa.
An ambassador for prostate cancer awareness and himself a cancer survivor, Shelford praised the women’s efforts to make men aware of the preventable health hazard.
“It’s good what you are doing. Prevention is better than cure. Six-hundred men die from it each year and prostate cancer is happening to younger and younger men,” Shelford said.
“For a lot of men, and Maori men in particular, [the issue is] tapu. We’ve got to change that mindset.
“Having a [prostate] check-up is nothing compared to the health check-ups women go through, so man up.”
In memory of their father, the sisters have embarked on a double-headed fundraiser for Arohanui Hospice, the NZ Prostate Cancer Foundation, Addis House and the Manawatu Cancer Society.
They’re planning a Boogie Wonderland disco for March 4 and have a team taking part in the following weekend’s Relay For Life.
“We’ve formed [Team George] to recognise the man he was, to pay tribute to him as a family man, community man, team player and working man, as well as [a tribute to] the others who have cancer,” Ponga said.
“There are 36 so far in the Relay team. The eldest is 77 and the youngest is 8 months.”
Ponga said they wanted to acknowledge the organisations that supported George through his cancer, with proceeds from disco ticket sales shared among them.
The fundraising disco was also about building “an awareness among our men about health screening for prostate cancer”.
“Dad’s legacy lives on with us, his children and his family – get yourself checked.”
Ponga’s widow Marina said if men were shy about having a check up, they should do it for their families
Story by RICHARD MAYS on Stuff.co.nz