Photo credit: Scott McAulay
12 September 2018
Josh Hickford has been through the wringer these past two years, emerging the other side of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and making a name for himself on Survivor New Zealand, but the 29-year-old is about to take on another huge challenge when he lines up at IRONMAN 70.3 Taupo in December, in the hope of raising money for the Cancer Society.
New Plymouth’s Hickford has become accustomed to being ‘outside his comfort zone’, first with the shock of a cancer diagnosis before choosing to put his name forward for Survivor New Zealand, little surprise then that he is again taking on an event that will push him to his limits.
“I have been a spectator at Taupo 70.3 before whilst watching my twin sister compete. It is a beautiful course and an amazing backdrop to compete in a 70.3. And of course, it isn't quite as hilly as New Plymouth!
“I am principally doing Taupo to prove that anyone can overcome a struggle in one’s life and achieve their goals. The struggle and goals can be relative to anyone's situation. For me it was overcoming cancer, and now it will be to complete Taupo 70.3.
“This is my first (hopefully of many) dabble into multi-sport and I want to test myself and complete something I thought I would never do. Along the way I aim to raise $10,000 for Cancer Society of New Zealand. This is to help enhance the support services and mentoring in the youth cancer demographic. When I cross that finish line I hope to inspire others to chase their goals and push themselves.”
Now in remission, Hickford remembers all too clearly the day he received the news that he had cancer and recalls going into that battle with a sportsman’s mindset.
“Cancer is not something you are ever prepared to be told. The day I got told was not even a results day, they were still carrying out tests to diagnose what was thought to be a mystery illness. But I got the dreaded phone call.
“It is a feeling I have never experienced, a black cloud smacks you right in the face and it feels like being in a bit of a bubble. At 27 I certainly did not think I would be told I had cancer. Once I digested the news and researched the situation and prognosis I went straight into the treatment and approached it like a sports match or event. An end goal that required efforts along the way, a bit of luck and a very strong positive mindset. Luckily, I have a very good network of family and friends that came along for the ride.”
Now well and truly into his training for the December 8 event, Hickford is finding that the time out running, biking and swimming is not only good for him physically but is giving him time to reflect.
“My biggest concern has always been injury as I have had a few running injuries in the past. However, I have listened to the advice I have been given to train smart and at an easy pace. In the past I have gone too hard, too fast and paid the price. This time around I want to get it spot on and give myself the best shot, so I am training to the plan.
“Some of the rides and runs have been long and challenging. You learn a lot about yourself when out on those rides and runs. There is a lot of time to think and reflect. I get constant reminders of why I am doing this and that motivates me deeply. But one thing I do know is there is no hiding out there! You are the only one that can get yourself across that finish line! Bring it on.”
In the current climate in New Zealand society with the role, behaviours and expectations of the ‘typical Kiwi male’ being put under the microscope and challenged, Hickford says there are lessons he can pass on from his own experiences.
“There are certainly lessons from my experience that I can pass onto other men in New Zealand. You should always be vigilant with your body and your health and wellbeing and leave nothing to chance.
“I am in remission now and put a lot of that success down to catching the disease early. Early stage diseases are easiest to treat, less advanced and the odds of beating it are more in your favour.
“The analogy I give is car insurance. We all have $500 or so car insurance, registration fees and ongoing maintenance costs which we happily pay each year. Yet some people will not spend $50 on the doctor! That is crazy! Your body is your ‘vehicle of life’ and if you neglect that then your life could be over in a flash. I think all generations can still be a little closed off, but the attitude is changing.”
Hickford is not just doing this for himself however, he is hoping to raise at least $10,000 for a charity that will forever be close to his heart.
“I am completing the Taupo 70.3 not only for myself and to complete a big physical challenge but to raise funds for Cancer Society of NZ. Along the way I aim to raise $10,000 for Cancer Society of New Zealand. This is to help enhance the support services and mentoring in the youth cancer demographic.”
More information on why Josh is raising money for Cancer Society of New Zealand can be found on the donation link here.
Click here to follow Josh’s fundraising campaign and IRONMAN 70.3 Taupo journey.