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Desperate plea man’s last wish

By Emily Norman
[email protected]

Breast cancer victim Max Croskery, of Masterton, fought until his death for better funding for cancer drugs.

The father-of-two was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, and then with incurable breast cancer in 2013.

Mr Croskery’s doctor initially misdiagnosed the lump in his breast tissue as an infection, and it took about three months to get confirmation that it was cancer.

While rare, about 20 men in New Zealand are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, one per cent of all cases.

Mr Croskery lost his battle against the disease in July this year, aged 55.

His oldest son Thomas, 21 said the cancer drug, Kadcyla, could have given his dad more time, but it is not publicly funded.

“It should be more accessible for cancer patients,” he said.

“The government should fund these drugs because they make a difference for people.”

Before dying, Mr Croskery had joined forces with other Kiwi cancer sufferers to make a desperate video plea for better access to medicines.

It was part of a campaign run by The Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition (BCAC), which launches today, along with a petition to the Minister of Health, Jonathan Coleman, asking for an increase in funding for medicines.

BCAC’s chairwoman Libby Burgess said New Zealanders with advanced breast cancer, like Mr Croskery, were missing out on “ground-breaking” new medicines and were paying “the ultimate price” as a result- “with their lives”.

“Medicines such as Kadcyla and Perjeta have had dramatic results in extending their lives,” she said.

“They are available in Australia, but they are not publicly-funded here.

“New Zealand men and women need and deserve these drugs too.”

There are currently five breakthrough breast cancer medicines funded in Australia to give longer, healthier lives to people with breast cancer, but none of these are provided to New Zealanders.

Recent research shows Kiwis with breast cancer are 40 per cent more likely to die than Australians, and if New Zealand’s 5-year survival rate was the same as Australia’s, 529 Kiwis who died from breast cancer between 2006 and 2010 would still be alive.

In the video campaign, Mr Croskery said he felt “disenchanted with being a kiwi”, due to capped funding on medicines.

“What my big thing is really is that we’re such valuable citizens, you know,” he had said.

“Just about everyone that I’ve met through this are either still working, they’re parents, they volunteer, they contribute to society.

“My best hope would be to get some sort of treatment that would mean that I, and others that are in my situation, could manage it as a chronic condition and live like a diabetic would.”

Between 2009 and 2014 across all diseases, only 14 new medicines were publicly funded in New Zealand, while almost 60 were funded in Australia, and 131 in the UK.

Following his dad’s death, Thomas said he and his younger brother Joseph have coped by sticking together and supporting each other.

“Value each moment you have with loved ones and make the most of every day,” he said.

“And try to have no regrets.”

*To sign the open letter to the Minister of Health visit www.breastcancer.org.nz/meds


  1. What Max said was true…all these people are valuable contributors to New Zealand society and the economy and their children are the future.
    To deny them treatment that is readily available is barbaric!
    Shame on you.

  2. An emotive issue, Cancer, especially when Government see funding for a “flag” more important than life itself.

  3. Please fund the same amount of breast cancer drugs as those in Australia get! It’s terrible we have one of the highest rates in the world yet lack the drugs to treat it & die much quicker from this terrible disease.
    I have lost my mum, good friend, second cousin & my 2 friends have also lost their mums. All gone far too soon & our lives are affected daily by losing them.

  4. How come the Government can put more funds into building new up market prisons to keep criminals happy while us Tax paying law abiding citizens are left to die needlessly because they won’t fund our medicines so we get the death penalty.???

  5. Please fund these life extending drugs so my children can have their mother, my parents their daughter, my brothers their sister and my friends their friend for as long as possible with a good quality of life.

  6. These drugs need to be funded to sustain life that can be productive. We are not criminals we do not deserve the death penalty.

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