Walking tall for cancer
A SPRIGHTLY cancer survivor is walking with purpose after battling an aggressive spinal tumour.
Avid tramper Jack Woodward is gearing up for the Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, being held at Mt Smart Stadium next month.
At 83, he has survived a round of chemotherapy and radiotherapy after being diagnosed with non-hodgkin’s lymphoma last May.
“I couldn’t lie down – I had to sleep in chairs,” says the Epsom resident, who also suffered from chest pain.
“The symptoms took a while to develop. My GP tried everything in terms of diagnosis, they couldn’t identify what it was.”
Mr Woodward has always been active, having completed a fun run last March.
Eventually an MRI scan revealed the problem and shortly after he started chemotherapy.
“Fortunately it didn’t involve hospitalisation. It’s amazing the volume of drugs they put through your system.”
After finishing the treatment Mr Woodward received some good news: “They said I’d had a full remission.”
He says the Relay For Life sends a message of hope.
“When I was a kid, people hardly uttered the word cancer, it was a dreaded disease with little prospect of survival.”
But he says that has changed and the relay participants are evidence of success stories.
Mr Woodward and his wife Mary, who met through a university tramping club, have been tramping all around New Zealand and overseas, including a seven year stint in Papua New Guinea.
Cancer Society chief executive John Loof says the upcoming relay is a fun event that draws the community together.
He says it started in the United States when one man decided to run for 24 hours for a cancer cause. “And then the idea blossomed.”
More than 40 teams are registered so far for the relay, but more can join.
“The numbers are creeping up every day.”
Mr Loof adds that it is not an athletic event so will suit all fitness levels and ages.
The Relay For Life lasts for 18 hours, where groups of 10 or more take part in a non-competitive run or walk, keeping a team member with a baton on the track at all times.
Funds raised before the event are used for cancer research.
Cancer accounts for almost 30 percent of all New Zealand deaths, with the five most common forms being colorectal, breast, prostate, melanoma and lung cancer.
The relay will be held at Mt Smart from 4pm on February 20 until 10am on February 22.
Another event will be held at North Shore’s Millennium Institute the following weekend.
Mr Loof says nationally the relay raises about $3 million each year and he hopes the two Auckland events will raise around $200,000 of that.
A similar amount was raised by the Auckland events last year, but he says it is difficult to compare because the venue has moved from Papatoetoe to Mt Smart.
Cancer survivors are being invited to join the 400 metre opening or finishing lap. Call 308-0494 or visit www.relay forlife.org.nz.
Important steps: Cancer survivor Jack Woodward will be proudly participating in the Cancer Society’s Relay For Life.