Buck’s back to boost cancer aware­ness


A Palmer­ston North cancer aware­ness cam­paign re­ceived a boost last week from a well­known 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 prostate cancer, aged 56, on Novem­ber 29.

In the city to speak to a men’s health event in the Marist clu­b­rooms, 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.’’

‘‘Six-hun­dred men die from it each year and prostate cancer is hap­pen­ing to younger and younger men’’ Wayne 'Buck' Shelford

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.’’

The fundrais­ing disco was also about build­ing ‘‘an aware­ness among our men about health screen­ing for prostate cancer’’.

Ponga’s widow Ma­rina said if men were shy about hav­ing a check up, they should do it for their fam­i­lies


Wayne Shelford, Mar­garet Ponga (with her fa­ther Ge­orge) and Jes­sica Ti­raa.

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