PROSTABLOG NZ: It’s a powerful way to get the message about prostate cancer death across to people – 600 blue crosses laid out on the forecourt of the country’s national museum.
But not everyone noticed.
In fact some people walked right through the crosses outside Te Papa Museum in Wellington, one man road his bike over them – and a press photographer insisted on standing in the middle of them to get his shot.
The majority of passersby, however, looked where they were going and paid due respect to the graphic reminder there are 600 prostate cancer deaths in NZ each year.
Many stopped at the Prostate Cancer Foundation of NZ stand to get their faces painted.
A brief moments’ silence was orchestrated by Rev Wiremu Herbert, a chaplain from Wellington Hospital.
He has officiated at 10 tangi in Wellington this year for Maori men who have died of the disease.
A few words were said to the crowd who’d gathered by the co-chair of the Wellington branch of the PCF, Doreen Morrison.
Some people took the opportunity to write on the crosses the names of loved ones who have been lost to the cancer.
(In my case, I wrote the name of renowned Wellington journalist and editor Frank Haden, who died a few years ago).
In what was a coup for the foundation, Parliament agreed to fly two Blue September/PCF flags on the flagpoles outside the Beehive and Parliament buildings.
Fitting timing, given the first hearing for the Health Select Committee inquiry into prostate cancer was held this week.
Blue Friday events were held around the country, with schools and businesses urged to encourage students and staff to come to work in blue clothing and paint their faces in the now-familiar Blue September paint.
With just a few days to go of the second-ever Blue September in NZ, organisers MWCMedia and the Prostate Cancer Foundation are declaring the initiative a major success, with awareness of the disease raised everywhere.
In one special Blue September project, a team of urologists and media flew to the Chatham Islands from Wellington today to talk to the male population and offer free tests to men.
According to a health worker on the island, Joe Tapara, there are about 153 eligible men, 67% of them Maori and/or Moriori. He knows of three cases of prostate cancer on the island.
Asked how they react to the offer of prostate tests, he said: “Not very keen. As soon as they get symptoms, they’re keen.”