Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Cameron Suafoa, defeating cancer to representing his Māori culture

Photo: @cjsuafoa_
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Neueli Mauafu | Reporter

It’s been quite a year for Cameron Suafoa. In November last year he was diagnosed with a high-grade sarcoma in his back. 

Remarkably, he played two matches for the Blues only months after surgery before being forced to take a break

As he gets set to run out for the Maori All Blacks tomorrow night ahead of their clash with Japan XV in Tokyo, the 26 year old has helped his team clinch the Super Rugby title and successfully defeated his battle with cancer.

Now in his second Māori All Blacks campaign, the young forward is looking at life a bit differently now as he reflects on his journey with health complications.

Photo: Photosport

“No one really expects to be diagnosed with cancer at a young age, and to still carry on with the normal stuff in life” Suafoa said.

“At the time I did not really know how to express how I was feeling, but I guess right now I could say I am definitely grateful. It’s made me understand also that rugby is only just a small part of my life”

Suafoa is named to start at loose forward in tomorrow night’s clash completing the back row with Billy Harmon and Cullen Grace.

Of  Samoan and Māori heritage, Suafoa is hoping to represent his two cultures well, especially for his family and loved ones who have supported him through his rough patch.

Suafoa also said that he shares similar stories with his other Māori AB’s teammates who are also on their own journey in connecting with their heritage. 

“My dad is Samoan and mum’s Māori. But I grew up in Auckland so I was kind of around both cultures with family and relatives”

“I can honestly say though I was not fully immersed in my Māori heritage, so being able to come here and involved in a team like Māori All Blacks is something I will always cherish”

Photo: NZRU

“We have also been able to carry on that pride for our culture at the Blues by holding our own Māori cultures. So it’s special being able to incorporate the language and culture in everyday life”

Having fully recovered from his diagnosis, Suafoa is still in the process of having checkups to monitor his progress, which includes scans and tests every 3 months.

With all the learnings that have come his way, he is adamant that his story can be a lesson to many other aspiring sports stars who are facing their own trials.

“Anything you set out to do in life is never a straight road. There will be setbacks that you’ll face whether its illness or injuries”

“Believe in yourself and always be confident. If you have that , then you are capable of doing greater things in whatever pathway you’re on”

Broadcast schedule for Saturday’s match

Māori All Blacks v Japan XV

Saturday, 29 June, 10.00pm NZST (7.00pm JST)

Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, Tokyo

Saturday, 29 June, 10.00pm NZST (7.00pm JST)

English commentary: Sky Sport 1

Te reo Māori commentary: Sky Sport 2 & Whakaata Māori (free-to-air)

Sky Open: Delayed coverage

On demand highlights: NZR+ and All Blacks YouTube channel

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