I want to raise awareness among Māori people and in our communities. You don’t see a lot of Māori boys going to the doctor. We can be a bit shy, so I’m putting my hand up. It’s time to put the word out.Jeremiah
Do it for your whānau: get unusual symptoms checked
Jeremiah Hori was in his mid-50s when he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. Now Jeremiah, who is from Kaikohe in the far North and who identifies as New Zealand Māori, is urging others to get any unusual symptoms checked at their GP or whānau doctor straight away.
Jeremiah believes he was unwell before his diagnosis. A forestry worker for 40 years, he was used to a physically demanding job and ignored his symptoms including a sore back. When he finally went to his doctor for tests, he received a diagnosis two days later. It was advanced prostate cancer.
“I was totally gutted. I had hoped that it was something simple, but they told me it was an aggressive, metastatic prostate cancer. I was in complete shock. A week later I travelled from Whangarei Hospital to Auckland where I started radiation treatment”, he says.
Jeremiah is now receiving chemotherapy treatments every three weeks. He says his diagnosis has seriously impacted his friends and whānau. Not only did the diagnosis take an emotional and spiritual toll, but it was also a huge financial burden.
“It affected everyone. I am usually the head of the table in my family. I’m a hard worker, I’ve never been a tired, lazy fellow. But with cancer, it doesn’t matter how hard or strong you are. I really wanted to get back to work as soon as possible while I still could. I’ve been working in forestry straight from school and I’m a gun on the chainsaw”, says Jeremiah.
Jeremiah has had to fund his own treatment as his medication is not currently government-funded, meaning he has used all his savings, and is re-mortgaging his house.
Travelling down to Auckland for treatment has also meant a lot of challenging paperwork during Covid times.
“I want to raise awareness among our Māori people and in our communities. If you’re experiencing any health problems or unusual symptoms, you should go straight to your GP or whānau doctor. Get checked out because you never know.
“You don’t see a lot of Māori boys going to the doctor. We can be a bit shy, so I’m putting my hand up. It’s time to put the word out”.