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Back on the beat after recovery

Sergeant Chris Megaw is taking part in Relay for Life, the Cancer Society’s biennial fundraiser. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

HAYLEY GASTMEIER
[email protected]

A 30-year career in the police force could not prepare Wairarapa Sergeant Chris Megaw for the turn his life would take in 2016.

The husband and father of two had been feeling unwell and “pretty terrible” for a while when he discovered he had cancer – non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The emotional rollercoaster, medical treatment, and complications that followed posed challenges of a lifetime.

However, he made it through thanks to love and support from family, friends, medical professionals, and organisations like the Cancer Society.

“Everyone’s cancer journey is different,” he said.

“And some people’s journeys are way worse off than mine.

“The only reason I got through it all was with the help of others.”

Now in the “all clear”, Megaw is encouraging people to take part in the Cancer Society’s biennial fundraiser, Relay for Life, which is an opportunity to celebrate both cancer survivors and current battlers, while also remembering loved ones lost to the disease.

Megaw said he felt privileged to help raise funds for the charity, which does not receive any direct government funding, yet offers immense support to many going through hard times.

He said, as well as feeling under the weather, telling signs that something was amiss were rapid weight loss, random pains and vomiting.

He tried to ignore it all, but one day in early 2016 he took himself to Wairarapa Hospital where he underwent tests that later revealed his diagnosis.

“Things were a bit hazy from then on – as you can probably appreciate, I wasn’t in the flashiest state.”

He said the next thing he remembered was being in an ambulance being taken to Palmerston North Hospital.

“And a couple of days later I was getting started on chemotherapy . . . and I went downhill from there really.”

He said while the first dose of chemo was effective, various other things went wrong which included him suffering a perforated bowel.

“I was basically leaking nutrients and getting infections.”

Chemo was put on hold while “three feet” of his bowel was removed.

An impressive scar on Megaw’s stomach is a permanent reminder of the surgery, after which he spent three days in intensive care.

But his battle wasn’t over yet. A month or so later and he was back on the chemo for a four-month stint.

“At my worst I think I lost about 25kg. I went from 92kg to about 67kg and it happened pretty fast, it was majorly concerning.”

There were many more procedures and health issues arising, and Megaw said it all took a toll on his mental health.

Fortunately, he did not have to go through the journey alone.

His wife, Melanie, 19-year-old daughter Alex, and 17-year-old son Lucas, were by his side.

He said the high level of medical care he received blew him away, and organisations like the Ozanam House, which provides accommodation to cancer patients and their families in Palmerston North, and the Cancer Society, were incredible.

He said his workmates were supportive, as was former Wairarapa police area commander, Inspector Donna Howard, who had previously battled cancer herself and has since passed away.

Megaw, who re-joined the workforce a year ago, is enjoying being a front-line cop again.

He said it was challenging but rewarding and no two days were the same.

“And every now and then you make a difference to someone.”

Relay for Life will be held at Clareville Showgrounds on March 16 and 17.

It involves teams who walk or run around a track, relay style, for 16 hours, with each team aiming to raise at least $1000 for the Cancer Society.

All money raised will go towards the services provided in Wairarapa by the Cancer Society.

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