‘It makes you realise what’s important’
A paramedic the importance of health checks – but, writes Sara Meij, it took a car crash before he got a prostate-cancer diagnosis and he learned the importance of early testing.
Their annual Christmas holidays travel is a highlight, when they explore different, beautiful corners of New Zealand.
Duan is excited about the potential for political leadership in transforming New Zealand from an agriculture-based country to a more advanced developed nation.
Communities like Botany and Epsom feature in the Neighbourly survey as the most upbeat – and well they might be. They are wealthy, successful and influential. Epsom voters, in repeatedly returning ACT to Parliament, have had an inordinate say in ensuring National leads the Government. And the Chinese restaurants of Botany host many of the big political fundraisers that prop up National, Labour and ACT.
It’s not hard to see that those in the provinces might look at these powerful metropolitan communities with some resentment.
Whangarei local Cherry Daly has been underwhelmed by the main parties’ responses to her friends’ and neighbours’ concerns. She’s attended candidate meetings and doesn’t believe they understand the issues particular to her town. Gangs and P, she says, are the big ones. If the Government addressed those, it would solve the downstream issues of housing, poverty and truancy.
‘‘It’s almost like the candidates are fighting the battles in the big cities and the regional areas are being overlooked.’’
Daly points out the proposed railway to Marsden Point is a huge issue for Northland but none of the parties appear to be coming with specific plans for the area. They’ve been complacent over the years, she says, assuming Northland to be an unassailable National stronghold. That changed when NZ First leader Winston Peters took the electorate in the 2015 by-election.
In the past fortnight, both Bill English and Jacinda Ardern have campaigned in Northland – but are they listening, or are they just talking?
Daly’s not convinced by the new Labour leader. Too young. Daly describes it as a tide of youth mania, with voters enticed by personality rather than looking at what the party is offering. MIKE Hooper was on his way home on a rainy evening in March 2014, tired after finishing a 12-hour shift at St John, when he fell asleep behind the wheel of his car.
‘‘I ended up drifting across my lane, woke up just in time to see I was heading straight for another car so managed to swerve to avoid them without doing too much damage, just nipped them,’’ the 47-year-old father of two said.
‘‘In hitting them I then ended up flying off the road and putting the front of the car into the back of a digger that was parked in some road works on the side of the road.’’
Hooper said he was ‘‘pretty bashed up’’ with a fractured sternum among other injuries, and was taken to Auckland City Hospital.
There he was told they had found abnormalities in his blood work and pushed him to get it checked with his GP.
‘‘Being a typical male, I had been involved in the practice but I had never actually been to the doctor.’’
Both Hooper’s father and grandfather had prostate cancer, but he wasn’t showing any symptoms. But the tests came back positive.
‘‘I had surgery in March 2015 to remove the prostate gland itself and all of the lymph nodes around that just in case,’’ Hooper said.
‘‘I was all clear for about a year after that ... everything looked really good.’’
But the joy from being declared clear of cancer didn’t last long, because soon after, the regular check-up blood test showed abnormalities again.
After further scans, hormone replacement therapy and 71⁄ weeks of radiation therapy that ‘‘didn’t seem to really do a heck of a lot’’, Hooper was told the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes.
‘‘There’s no cure any more so essentially I’m terminal with the prostate cancer now.’’
Hooper said timeframes were ‘‘a pretty irrelevant thing’’, but that in general people with a
It’s almost like the candidates are fighting the battles in the big cities and the regional areas are being overlooked.’ CHERRY DALY Being a typical male, I had been involved in the practice but I had never actually been to the doctor.’ MIKE HOOPER, ABOVE
terminal diagnosis of prostate cancer had anywhere between two and five years to live.
‘‘I’m sort of leaning more towards the five years. Just trying to live life to the max for that time and making the most of it.
‘‘A big focus for me since being diagnosed has been to raise as much awareness of prostate cancer as I can.’’
Hooper said his diagnosis of the cancer has been ‘‘a bit of a journey too’’ for his 17-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son.
‘‘But it also brings you a lot closer and makes you realise what’s important in life.’’
Hooper said he wonders every day what his situation would have been had he not had the accident that led to the diagnosis.
‘‘I’ve always had this theory that out of everything bad that happens in life something good comes from it.
‘‘And you might not see it at that point in time, that’s exactly what happened in that situation ... we found the cancer.’’
Hooper said it was ‘‘crucial’’ for men to take responsibility for themselves and get checked for prostate cancer early on.
‘‘The party line has always been around 50 years old, but I think that’s changing so a once a year blood test from when you’re in your mid thirties wouldn’t do anybody any harm and could possibly save your life.
‘‘The sooner the better.’’