Tauranga man's laughter in the face of death

By John Cousins of the Bay of Plenty Times -
Prostate Cancer battler Kevin Major is not letting the disease take him without a few last laughs. Photo / Sam Ackland
Prostate Cancer battler Kevin Major is not letting the disease take him without a few last laughs. Photo / Sam Ackland

One of Tauranga's true characters will end his life with a huge and hilarious party where everyone will get the chance to insult, embarrass and humiliate him.

"I was not going to mope about dying," Kevin Major decided when he was given news that he had two months to live.

His desire to have one last party was given an interesting new dimension when his great friend Mike Coory came up with the idea of a celebrity roast.

Never one to shy away from fun, the man who achieved notoriety by dressing up in drag to win the "most outrageous" fashion prize at a city race meeting, agreed it would be absolutely brilliant.

The party, called "Kevin Major's bad taste celebrity roast", will take place at the Bureta Park Motor Inn on October 22, the day before he hopes the All Blacks become rugby's world champions.

Invitations carry the message, "Let's make fun of Kevin before he is gone" - the obvious inference being that he would rather hear it all while he is alive.

"I have never done anything normal in my entire life, and I'm not about to start now," he said.

Fancy dress is compulsory and because it is bad taste Kevin wants to see plenty of garish outfits.

Going out with a bang rather than a whimper means he would like to see as many friends and acquaintances as possible. People can get invitations by emailing kevscelebrityroast@hotmail.co.nz or mdcoory@ihug.co.nz

With the word just getting out, Kevin says he is already blown away by the number of people coming out of the woodwork.

"There are not many good things to say about getting terminal cancer." And he won't tolerate any sentimentality at his celebrity roast.

"A few people could try to slide some sloppy s*** in, but we have a gong to stop that."

The gong will also enforce a one-minute rule on amusing stories that will relive embarrassing moments and generally humiliate or insult the "roastee".

Kevin understands how his parents' generation might be a bit apprehensive about going to the roast but he still wants them to be there.

His diagnosis three weeks ago that he had terminal cancer followed a long battle with prostate cancer - ironically a battle he won by shunning surgery and travelling to Mexico's Hoxey Clinic.

So although he won the battle with his prostate, he didn't know until it was too late that he had lost the war. The cancer had spread into other parts of his body.

"It was a real kick in the guts," the Tauranga-born and bred jack-of-all-trades said.

After years of living healthily, he is back to enjoying a few beers and rolling cigarettes.

"I can't see the point of giving up now."

He is also off to Hampden Downs Motorsport Park to tick off a dream from his bucket list - to get behind the wheel of a Ford V8 race car.

Kevin's best hope is that he will be around to enjoy Christmas but does not like his chances of reaching 50 next July.

"It's been a lot of tears and a lot of laughs since the diagnosis. Black humour is brilliant - it keeps us going," he said looking across at his wife Ailey.

Kevin jokes that one of the few good things about his shortened life span was that his wife's opposition to his ideas seemed to have dried up. "It's yes, dear, (thinking) now die, you b******."

On the serious side, being given two months to live has intensified his feelings of love for the people in his life.

In hindsight, he realises that the physical niggles he attributed to his physical outdoors lifestyle was, in fact, cancer spreading into his lower spine and shoulders.

"I know what it is now - there's no more wondering."

For more articles from this region, go to

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n4 at 23 Aug 2014 02:18:59 Processing Time: 614ms