Super Rugby Pacific: Blues star Cameron Suafoa puts career on hold to concentrate on cancer battle

Blues rugby star Cameron Suafoa has put his Super Rugby Pacific career on hold to concentrate on his ongoing battle against cancer.

The powerful lock/flanker earned his blazer with his 20th appearance for the Auckland-based franchise against NSW Waratahs last month, but has revealed he underwent radiation treatment hours before flying across the Tasman to join with his teammates.

"I had my radiation treatment for the week that Friday morning, flew over Friday night to meet the boys and played Sunday," he said on Blues social media. 

Cameron Suafoa in action for the Blues.
Cameron Suafoa in action for the Blues. Photo credit: Getty Images

"I'm in the early stages of radiation. In the mornings, I'm usually pretty good... I've just woken up and full of energy, but after about 12-1, I start to decline fatiguewise and get real tired easily.

"I'm probably not eating the way I'm used to eating... pretty abnormal."

Suafoa, 25, has played for both Auckland and North Harbour, while also playing internationally for the Māori All Blacks and All Blacks XV. 

He was first diagnosed with high grade sarcoma last November and immediately underwent surgery to remove a tumour from his back.

"We were expecting on a Thursday to get a call about the results, it had already been delayed a week," said partner Brittany Hastings-Kutty. "When the call came through, I said if it was them telling you the results, it means it's good news.

"If it's them calling you to book an appointment, then it's not good news. The call was to book you in for an appointment and then surgery afterwards.

"I understand what that meant, but he was, like, 'Yep, sweet'. I'm sitting there crying, because no-one tells you bad news over the phone, and he's, like, 'What are you crying for?'"

Surgeons quickly called back to apologise for the premature surgery booking, which was supposed to be discussed in the meeting.

Through the early rounds of Super Rugby Pacific, Suafoa has undergone radiation therapy in the mornings and trained in the afternoons, but he's had to curtail that to concentrate on his health, as fatigue takes its toll. 

"At the time, I was still fulltime training - full weeks, contact and all," he said. "Physically, I felt fine and looking back on it now, I probably wasn't ready to admit to myself I was going through this.

"It was actually a few weeks before I told my family. My mum lives up north and my dad live in Perth, my uncle and auntie are in Gisborne... the only family I have here are my sister and grandparents in Auckland, so I got them all on a call and told them on the phone.

"It was a shock."

Cameron Suafoa in action for the All Blacks XV.
Cameron Suafoa in action for the All Blacks XV. Photo credit: Photosport

Suafoa is philosophical about his ongoing battle.

"It is what it is," he said. "I can't really change the fact I've been going through this or that it's happened to me.

"In my mind, if I keep thinking about this and let this bog me down, it just won't help me move forward. I don't want to be thinking 'Why me?' all the time, when I can hopefully pull something positive out of this, and come back fitter and stronger."

Hastings-Kutty urges others to maintain their health checks.

"It can happen to anyone," she said. "Get your lump checked... go to a physio, go to a GP, all you need is an X-ray or ultrasound.

"If it feels odd, don't just sit with it. Life is too short.

"It is scary and we don't wish it on anyone, but time is important. If you're not feeling right, please reach out to somebody."