Look after yourself before the Grim Reaper comes calling. That's the message Mark Jenkinson would like to get across to every man in the country as he faces the battle of his life.

"Men are notoriously bad at listening to their body and taking themselves to the doctor when they get an inkling that something is not quite right," Jenkinson, 64, says.

"And a lot of us are not so good at staying fit and healthy, that includes me. If I had been fit and healthy the journey I am on now would have been a lot easier."

In September Jenkinson was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. He is undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy in Palmerston North. He is staying at Ozanam House which provides accommodation for people and their carers travelling to Palmerston North for treatment.


"I had to pass a fitness test and lose some weight before I started this treatment. Hopefully it will be successful."

But that's not the end of his journey, it's just the beginning. Jenkinson will then have to pass another fitness test before undergoing two six-hour operations.

"In short in the first operation they remove part of my stomach and fashion part of an oesophagus. In the second operation they use this to replace my oesophagus.

"The doctors have told me that the procedure is 'horrendous and brutal'. When I was first diagnosed the doctor was up front. He said if you put all the types of cancer on the table and had to pick one to get, this one is the worst because of where it is."

However, in typical Jenkinson style, at a time when he should be focusing on himself he's thinking of other people and has set up a donation page — The Mo Goes — to raise money for Cancer Society Central (the money raised will be allocated to the Hawke's Bay Cancer Society) and the Ozanam House Trust.

"I have pledged to shave of my moustache which I have had for 46 years and is the remains of a student goatee in recognition of the assistance both of these amazing organisations are providing not only me and my family but all those on a similar journey."

The target is $3000 and less than a week out the total stands at $1993.66.

Jenkinson is well known in Hawke's Bay. He has been a member of Kart Sport HB since he was 12 years old, he is also a member of Kart Sport NZ has raced at speedway in TQ Midgets and saloon cars, is a member of HB Car club and Vintage Car Club.

In his late 20s he joined lifesaving and has been on Patrol at Ocean Beach for 36 years. In 2013 the Hastings District Council presented him with a citizenship award for service to the community.

"I guess you could say I'm a doer rather than a talker," he said.

Although his journey is a rough one and he is feeling the effects of the treatment he has no doubt that he can "beat this thing".

"I have never had a black moment — my humour might be black sometimes but I've never thought 'woe is me'. I have so much support from my wife Sharon and daughter Shona, my wider family and friends, my employers Polarcold Stores Ltd, the Cancer Society, everyone at Ozanam House — it's just incredible. I'm not planning on letting them down.

"I'm really hoping that by reading my story someone might decide to go back for that check up they have been putting off for months. I wish I had done that."

For Jenkinson the first sign that something was amiss was coughing fits that developed into choking when he ate.

He dismissed it for 12 months. In December 2017 he finally went to the doctor who started to investigate. Unfortunately that doctor left and it was 10 more months before the next doctor that saw him had an inkling that things were not right and decided it was worthwhile doing a laparoscopy.

"I was sitting in the waiting room and everyone else had gone home. The consultant came in and said it could be cancer. From there I was sure it was. I was told from the onset that there was no particular plan for this type of cancer. It's all about passing one step before you move onto the next. That's what a I plan to do."

To donate go to https://give.everydayhero.com/nz/the-mo-goes