Breast cancer battler Max Croskery is blazing trails as a male member of the nationwide Sweet Louise support group.
The 55-year-old electrician and father of two from Masterton was diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer six years ago.
He underwent a mastectomy to remove his right breast, radiotherapy and chemotherapy and was clear until 2013, when the disease had metastasized to his bones.
He underwent hip replacement surgery that removed some of his diseased bone, and after more radiotherapy and chemotherapy also received the drug Herceptin, which targets cancer cells containing HER2, a rogue protein found in a quarter of cases that stimulates rapid growth in tumours.
His oncologist has since recommended him for a new HER2-positive drug trial in May after he returns from a month-long holiday in the US.
"Until now, advanced or metastatic breast cancer has been considered incurable. But more and more with new treatments, especially the likes of the trial I'll be going on, it can be thought of as a chronic condition and managed for long periods of time," Mr Croskery said.
"The type of cancer I have is classified as HER2-positive and the new drug they're trialling, which uses a ground-breaking technique, targets the HER2 receptors and takes a little payload of chemo straight to the tumour. Hopefully the trial will be well-timed for me."
Mr Croskery also became involved with the Sweet Louise support group.
It was launched in 2006 by the Louise Perkins Foundation, which in turn had been established by Kiwi Scott Perkins in honour of his wife, who died after living for 10 years with secondary breast cancer.
Sweet Louise is dedicated to improving the quality of life for New Zealanders living with secondary breast cancer.
Mr Croskery said he had been initially hesitant about contacting the support group but had since wholeheartedly taken on its aspirations and philosophy.
"My partner found the group on the internet last year. I looked them up, made an application, and I've been going to their meetings in Wellington ever since. They ran a national forum in Auckland in November that I went to as well. It was awesome."
Tracy Smith, Greater Wellington support co-ordinator for Sweet Louise, said the Wellington branch was founded about seven years ago.
She said Mr Croskery had quickly become a valuable part of the Greater Wellington branch and was one of only three male members nationally.
There were about 500 members of the group overall.
"He's really a breath of fresh air for us and is just so proactive about Sweet Louise. It's great."
For more information about Sweet Louise go online to sweetlouise.co.nz