Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Olympian battling throat cancer

City councillor Dick Quax recovering after seven `miserable' weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

Dick Quax believes maintaining fitness has helped him fight the disease. Main picture /Richard Robinson
Dick Quax believes maintaining fitness has helped him fight the disease. Main picture /Richard Robinson

Olympian and Auckland councillor Dick Quax has revealed he has throat cancer and credits his wife Roxanne for having him receive early treatment, giving him a positive chance of beating the disease.

In August, Mr Quax noticed a lump on the right side of his neck. Being a "bloke" he did not think much of it but Roxanne made him see a doctor.

Tests revealed a confined malignant tumour.

Speaking at home in Pakuranga yesterday after a "bloody miserable" seven weeks of radiation treatment and chemotherapy, Mr Quax said he was lucky the cancer had not spread and required more intensive treatment.

He said Roxanne's focus on health was a godsend and a lesson for him and other men who took a more blase approach to health issues.

The 65-year-old believes maintaining fitness and a reasonably healthy lifestyle had also helped, but nothing, including training for the Olympics, had prepared him to fight for his life.

Doctors have told him the prognosis is good and he hopes to have had the all-clear by this time next year.

Mr Quax said he was fortunate to be re-elected unopposed for his Howick ward seat on the Auckland Council, which meant he did not have to fight an election campaign while receiving treatment.

Mr Quax, with John Walker and Rod Dixon, was one of New Zealand's leading distance runners of the 1970s.

In the 1976 Olympic 5000m final, which also included Rod Dixon, he was beaten by a stride in a dramatic last lap by Lasse Viren, of Finland.

He and Walker both made the move to politics, becoming Auckland councillors after stints as councillors on the former Manukau City Council. Mr Quax missed out at the first Super City elections in 2010, but was elected in a byelection after Jami-Lee Ross resigned to become an MP.

He stood for Parliament for Act in 1999 and 2002. In 2007 he was beaten by Len Brown for the Manukau mayoralty.

His family came to New Zealand from the Netherlands in 1954.

Dick Quax

Full name: Theodorus Jacobus Leonardus Quax
Age: 65
Born: Alkmaar, Netherlands

Athletic highlights

1970: Commonwealth Games at Edinburgh, 1500m silver medallist
1976: Olympic Games at Montreal, 5000m silver medallist
1977: Set world record of 13min 12.9secs for 5000m in Stockholm

Political career

* Manukau City councillor 2001-2010
* Auckland councillor 2011-present.

- NZ Herald

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