Visitors to Christchurch Airport this month can’t help but notice a bright blue tower to mark the start of Blue September.
Now into its fifth year, Blue September aims to get men (and their loved ones) to face up to prostate cancer through the message “Go Blue! Face up to prostate cancer”.
While the blue colour won’t have any impact on passenger safety, it may encourage male pilots, air crew and travellers to get checked for prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in NZ men. It is to men what breast cancer is to women. 1 in 10 Kiwi men will get it in their lifetime.
With approximately 3,000 new cases diagnosed each year and more than 550 dying of the disease, prostate cancer touches the lives of many New Zealanders.
Christchurch Airport CEO Jim Boult says the airport company is proud to be supporting Blue September.
“The exterior of the terminal can be lit in a wide range of colours and we like to use the lighting there and on the tower to show support for various causes and charities,” he says.
“We have the same number of people through the airport each day as the total population of Timaru, so the terminal and tower are seen by a lot of people. Going blue this month is a very visible reminder to men to consider making a doctor’s appointment for a check that could save their lives.”
Airways New Zealand chief executive Ed Sims says Airways is pleased to support the Blue September message.
“The air traffic control tower is an important part of the airport landscape. We hope that by supporting this important awareness-raising campaign we can make a difference to men’s health. Airways staff are active supporters of other cancer-awareness programmes and this is just one way we can give something back to the community.”
While there’s no way of preventing prostate cancer, the disease is very treatable if caught early enough. Many men are dying prematurely, simply because they didn’t go to the doctor for the check.
Keith Beck, CEO Prostate Cancer Foundation, says early detection of the disease means those men with prostate cancer have a chance to be treated before the cancer is incurable.
“Prostate cancer can only be cured when it’s contained within the prostate,” he says. “Once it’s out of the prostate the only treatment is palliative, which slows it down but doesn’t cure it,” he says.
Men aged over 40 should be encouraged to get an annual check up from their doctor.
Blue September began in New Zealand in 2008 but has now spread internationally, with campaigns occurring simultaneously in the USA, UK, Ireland and Australia.