By Maureen Bishop
It may only be three weeks after his last dose of chemotherapy but Matt Jones is determined to walk in the Cancer Society’s Relay for Life on February 24 and 25.
The Ashburton Intermediate teacher will take part in the opening lap for survivors and carers but Mr Jones is hoping he will be able to make it through the 18-hour event to the closing ceremony at 10am on February 25.
He is recruiting team members and already has two other survivors keen to join him, along with other friends.
Mr Jones was diagnosed with colorectal cancer last May.
He didn’t have any of the tell-tale symptoms.
“It’s not called the silent killer for nothing,” he said.
But weight loss and fatigue sent him looking for answers.
After waiting for a colonoscopy in the public health system – without success – Mr Jones and his wife, Fay decided to seek one in the private sector.
“We scraped together the money to pay for it. If we had waited on the public system it could have been too late.”
But once the cancer was found, he finds no fault with the public system.
Five weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatment followed the diagnosis, and surgery in September. This showed no sign that the cancer had spread.
Now he is looking forward to his last chemotherapy treatment and removal of the picc line from his arm.
It has prevented him swimming during one of the district’s hottest summers.
“The thing I am most looking forward to is getting back in the water. I would live in water if I could.”
Mr Jones has high praise for the Cancer Society.
“I can’t speak highly enough of them. They gave us vouchers for our travel to Christchurch, baking and a Christmas hamper.”
But it was the ability to talk to someone who understood, he found most valuable.
He also praised businesses which support the society’s work.
“We had vouchers from the cinema, Countdown and McDonald’s. If people didn’t support them it would make it 10 times more difficult for them to do their work.”
Now he’s looking forward to resuming a more normal life with his wife and sons, Caleb, 11 and Noah, 8.
New Zealand has one of the highest bowel cancer rates in the world. Bowel cancer is the second highest cause of cancer death in New Zealand, but it can be treated successfully if it is detected and treated early.