A former All Black captain is hopping on his bike to raise awareness of the huge toll prostate cancer has taken on Kiwi men.
Stu Wilson, who scored 50 tries while he was an All Black between 1976 and 1983, is pulling together a team to take part in the inaugural Pedal 4 Prostate event being run by the Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand next month.
The event would see teams of four ride around the track at Hampton Downs for four hours in a competition to see who could clock up the most laps.
Wilson admitted he had never considered getting a check-up for prostate cancer until Buck Shelford "rail-roaded" him into getting behind the first Blue September campaign for the foundation some years ago.
He scoffed when Shelford told him he should get a physical until Shelford said he had one done himself.
"I learnt a bit about [prostate cancer] and was quite surprised by the brutal statistics," Wilson said.
Now he is an ambassador for the Prostate Cancer Foundation and makes sure he has a check-up every year.
"If it comes back fine then I'm happy and I know I can get on with my life. You have to be realistic about your health and how your situation changes with age. There's no point pretending it's not happening."
That was why he was taking part in Pedal 4 Prostate on October 8.
"It's awareness and it's making sure you do something about it," he said. "It all adds up ... It needs government funding but in the meantime we need to do it on our own."
Friends and ex-All Blacks Joe Stanley and Bernie McCahill were also supporting him in his training for the event.
Wilson said there was still a stigma around it among Kiwi males which made it hard to change attitudes. All men over 40 should have a check-up each year.
"If you wait sadly you might be a statistic. Sometimes you've got to take a selfish attitude and get tested. Sadly we lose 600 brothers every year."
He had two close friends who were diagnosed with prostate cancer which made the issue even closer to his heart. One survived treatment, the other did not.
Wilson said wives, girlfriends or boyfriends needed to push their partners to get tested.
Prostate Cancer Foundation chief executive Graeme Woodside said the charity had been looking for a unique signature event and had settled on Pedal 4 Prostate.
"Because cycling is the new golf and attracts a lot of middle-aged men, we thought it was a great way to attract people," he said.
Part of the appeal was also the chance to ride on the Hampton Downs race track, he said.
So far more than 20 teams had signed up but they were hoping for many more, he said.
About prostate cancer
- In New Zealand, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men.
- About 3000 men are diagnosed each year and about 600 die from it.
- About one in eight men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime.
- Click here to register for Pedal 4 Prostate.