Living life to the fullest: Neville Britton


For a local who’s had prostate cancer, the 10km race in this month’s New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty Queenstown Marathon marks a milestone.

Athletics coach Neville Britton, who’s turning 55 before the run, stopped running after he was first diagnosed with cancer when he was 49.

He had his prostate removed, but now the cancer’s returned.

‘‘Whilst my prostate’s been removed, which was encasing the original growth, some of those cells can work their way out,’’ he says.

‘‘At the moment, I’ve got a low level of cancer cell reformation.

‘‘Hopefully radiotherapy will blast it.

‘‘Even if it doesn’t, because it’s not as aggressive, I should probably still get 10 [years more] to get my first government pay cheque.’’

Britton says his oncologist recommended he get as healthy as he could, specifically suggesting low-intensity aerobic exercise.

‘‘So I got straight back into the running again.’’

He’d kept up his coaching throughout — he’s been Wakatipu High’s athletics coach for about six years — and he now runs with his athletes on easy days, but not when they’re doing hard training.

On November 21, he says he’ll pace some of his young female runners, ‘‘and help them achieve a record or a time’’.

A competitive runner when he was young, Britton says he’s proof cancer doesn’t discriminate.

‘‘We assume because you’re fit and healthy you’re immune, which you’re not.’’

He says he only decided to get a full check-up after a friend died of melanoma.

It was then found he had a high PSA level.

After a biopsy was done, it was found he had early-stage prostate cancer.

He says his message is everyone should get ‘‘a regular warrant of fitness on your body’’.

‘‘As men we seem to think we’re impervious, we’re bullet-proof.’’