By Lisa Williams-Lahari - email@example.com
New Zealand Rugby great Buck Shelford says men can avoid the "C" word in their lives if they open up and talk more about their health and emotions, especially to their families.
The former All Black was guest of honour at a blue-ribbon breakfast for awareness on men's health and prostate cancer on Saturday morning led by the Cook Islands community in South Auckland.
Taking his cue on tackling all forms of cancer through cultural and household habits around eating and activity for leisure, Shelford challenged listeners to take the lead on prevention.
He says eating well and exercising are skills Pacific and Māori people need to accept and master as lifelong habits.
"Eat real food, go to the doctor and last of all, don't stop exercising," Shelford shared with the more than 120 South Auckland community leaders.
"Get out there and exercise because it will help your wairua (spirit) it will help your tinana (body) and will help with everything. Exercise until the day you die."
Shelford also stressed the need for Pacific and Māori men to open up more, especially to their wives and families.
He said the link between mental wellness and open communication in families was a key part of holistic fitness and happiness.
Not surprisingly, he fielded questions over his game style and the All Blacks as part of the Q and A sessions.
Earlier in the morning, Cook Islands Whānau Ora practitioner Dr Robert Woonton presented an overview of prostate cancer, explaining key terms in Māori and urging men to see their doctors for annual check-ups, even if they felt they were okay.
The public presentation on an issue Dr Woonton usually only talks about to men was a milestone moment, sparking many moments of hilarity to smooth the mental hurdles for some guests digesting details around male genitals over a breakfast event with both sexes present.
"There have been many sessions with our men and there are men's health initiatives for Cook Islanders, but no, nothing like this one," Woonton says.
The blue ribbon breakfast was organised by Auckland-based Cook Islander Vincent Peters as an initiative in support of men's health in his community and comes ahead of Movember celebrations across the world.