Castlepoint’s lighthouse. PHOTO/FILE
Castlepoint’s John Keen was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year, but he’s found inspiration close to home to throw light on the subject for others.
“When I was diagnosed, I was sort of in the dark, no symptoms or anything like that,” he said.
To raise awareness and help other men like him, Keen is putting a spotlight on one of New Zealand’s biggest killers by lighting up Castlepoint lighthouse in blue until midnight each night for a week, from Saturday night.
It’s part of Blue September, the national prostate cancer awareness week co-ordinated by the Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Kiwi men — one in eight will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime.
Keen said professional lighting had been installed temporarily at the lighthouse as part of its centennial in 2013.
Late last year, permanent lighting was installed with the assistance of Maritime New Zealand.
“The lighthouse goes through different lighting patterns and we can control it remotely and we have a camera, so people can watch it from a distance.
“It looks quite impressive when it reflects across the bay,” he said.
Keen said he was determined to make his diagnosis a positive thing.
“I’ve been through a bit of a journey myself, there are a lot of unknowns when you’re diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“I’ve had some little hiccups, but every person’s story is different.”
His story has prompted other men to get check-ups, some have whom who have also been diagnosed.
“I’ve been quite open about it to raise awareness and I’ve seen the benefits of actually being open about it.”
Keen is a great believer in listening to specialists.
“There are some decisions to be made and it is a trying time, but you work through it.”
He also considers himself lucky — “lucky that it was picked up and I’ve turned it around into a positive thing”.
“They picked it up, I got something done about it, and hopefully I’m moving on,” he said.
Masterton District Council’s manager community facilities and activities Andrea Jackson praised the idea of using Castlepoint to highlight the issue.
“We’re really supportive of any efforts to increase people’s awareness of health-related issues and whanau ora initiatives.
“It’s a fantastic initiative to use such an iconic landmark such as the Castlepoint lighthouse to do this,” she said.
“I feel confident it will prompt people to ask the question why it is lit up, which is enough to open the door to a conversation about prostate cancer.”