Race of his life

16:00, Feb 24 2014
Dick Quax
FEELING POSITIVE: Doctors cannot find any cancer cells in his body but Dick Quax says he knows he is not out of the woods. ‘‘It will be some time before I’m given the all-clear.’’

Former Olympian Dick Quax thought he might never run again after cancer treatment stopped him in his tracks.

The 66-year-old, who won a silver medal in the 5000 metres at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, was running most days for up to an hour before being diagnosed with the disease in September.

Doctors tell him it will be difficult to regain the 12 kilograms he lost after treatment for a squamous-cell carcinoma on his right tonsil and neck. But Mr Quax is already halfway there and determined to make it after successful chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

Dick Quax
SPORTING SUCCESS: Dick Quax had a stellar athletics career and hopes to keep running as long as he can

"I still enjoy running, it's a real easy exercise for me to do and I want to continue as long as I can."

He is now starting to exercise again, but a side effect of the chemotherapy is pins and needles in his feet that makes even walking feel "clunky".

"It's very difficult for me at the moment."


The radiotherapy has also taken its toll on the Auckland councillor.

"I have to drink all the time and chew gum in order to get my saliva glands working. That makes it hard to run because my throat's dry."

Mr Quax has no doubt being fit has aided his recovery.

"All the medical people who were dealing with me have basically said that going into this being fit and in good condition has helped me with this treatment.

"And I don't doubt that for one moment. That's been a huge bonus for me to be able to cope."

Mr Quax says he and his family received good news last week after his latest scan.

"They couldn't pick up any cancer cells in my body and they also were able to determine that they killed off the cancer cells that were in my neck and on my tonsil," he says.

"That was my greatest fear that it had spread somewhere else, but it hasn't."

He says he isn't out of the woods yet and will be under decreasing medical supervision for the next five years.

It's been three and a half months since he finished treatment and his energy levels have increased, although not to where they were before. But he's able to work and enjoy time with family after spending a relaxing Christmas and New Year break in Hawaii.

Mr Quax says he went to his doctor initially only because his wife told him to, and he is grateful to her.

"As blokes we are not good at going to see the doctor when we should, and . . . having an annual check up," he says.

"Every morning when I had a shave I saw that lump on my neck and I was always making excuses for it."

Eastern Courier