Battler gives back to cancer society
When you pass Les Blake on the street, it is difficult to decipher that the fit and active man you see has cancer.
Perhaps because he’s more focused on others.
The 63-year-old Tokoroa resident has been inspired to help out future visitors of The Cancer Society’s Lion’s Lodge in Hamilton – a place he called home while enduring weeks of radiation.
Despite still battling the ‘‘ big C’’, the accomplished runner and his supportive wife raised $3200 for the lodge, including money raised from a half marathon Blake completed last year and contributions from the Tokoroa City Lions Club and Kinleith wellness committee.
Blake said he also wanted to make a contribution to enhance the patients’ time at the lodge, so four La-Z-Boy recliners, in South Waikato Community’s name, have been donated.
‘‘We did not want the money to get lost in the day-to-day running,’’ he said. ‘‘ Companionship and relaxation at the lodge were two things that helped with my mindset and we wanted to build on that.’’
Blake said it only seemed right considering the ‘‘ astounding’’ number of South Waikato residents who use the lodge.
The couple met four Tokoroa residents during their short stay and Cancer Society communications manager Rachel Mounsey said 716 nights at the lodge were used by South Waikato people last year.
It has been a tough road for the couple, one that started four years ago with a routine visit to the doctor.
It was an abnormally high prostate-specific antigen (PSA) reading which led to a biopsy and eventually, the removal of his prostate in July 2010.
Blake was cleared of the disease for the next two years but the couple were soon to learn it was a high and aggressive cancer.
In September 2012 Blake’s PSA elevated again and not even medication or hormonal injections could halt its growth.
It wasn’t long before Blake was referred for seven weeks of daily radiation.
And although the treatment did not have a huge effect on him, the daily commute was draining, Blake said.
The pair continued to work for five weeks as a way to slip back into normality, his wife said.
‘‘He didn’t think about the cancer, he was busy and with his mates.’’ In the last two weeks of radiation treatment, they were given a spot at the cancer lodge.
Blake said he was able to push through with help from organisations like the Cancer Society.
He plans to complete another half marathon with his daughter and spend more time with his children in Australia.
The couple say they do not know what the future holds but they will make every day count.
COMFORT: Les Blake tests out one the La-Z-Boys donated to the lodge.
HARD WORK: Les Blake was proud of his efforts in the half marathon to fundraise for the lodge.