Buck Shelford's own, personal cancer
Buck Shelford supports the Leukaemia & Blood Foundation to raise awareness about his own, personal cancer
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Today on World Lymphoma Awareness Day rugby legend, Buck Shelford, puts his weight behind the Leukaemia & Blood Foundation's (LBF) campaign for better understanding of the cancer lymphoma.
Buck Shelford was diagnosed with lymphoma in May 2007. Lymphoma had been dubbed 'the common cancer no one knows' despite it being the sixth most common cancer in the country affecting about 800 people every year.
Buck says: "I visited my GP after being irritated by a persistently watering eye. I was given some eye drops and saw no improvement so I went to see an optometrist who found a cyst. They performed a small operation and the biopsy showed lymphoma which I'd never heard of."
Lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system, has an incidence rate four times higher than cervical cancer and kills more people than melanoma. Certain types of lymphoma can kill in as little as six months.
Lymphoma can be difficult to diagnose as it presents in many different ways. Buck and the LBF urge that if people get persistent symptoms such as swelling in the neck, underarm region or groin, unexplained weight loss and tiredness they must speak to their doctor.
Shelford encourages people to be vigilant. "If you notice something is wrong, do something about it and get it checked out as early detection can make a big difference."
"I responded really well to treatment right from the start and made quick progress. I'm now in remission and fully ok. I really want people to be aware of lymphoma and know about what to look for. Even if you are a burly big All Black, you can still get cancer. We can't just turn our backs on it."
Because of the worrying number of New Zealanders being diagnosed with lymphoma the LBF along with Buck Shelford are urging people to visit the website www.knowyournodes.org.nz to learn about the symptoms of this cancer.
Research undertaken this month by the LBF shows 89% of 501 people surveyed could not correctly identify that lymphoma was a cancer of the lymphatic system and 94 per cent did not list lymphoma in the top of mind cancers. Only 2% could recognise the symptoms.
Pru Etcheverry, Executive Director of the LBF, says: "The growing figures are extremely disturbing given New Zealanders' apparent lack of awareness about the disease, which is why World Lymphoma Awareness Day is so vital in this country."
For more information go to www.knowyournodes.org.nz - it could save your life.