Craig McDougall’s consistent dedication to community service is what keeps his spirit alive, even as he battles with a deadly disease. Not a man to crave the limelight, McDougall has always worked silently, channeling all his efforts to bring about a positive change in others’ lives.
An accomplished boxing coach and a mentor, McDougall was recognized as the 2013 Hawke’s Bay Person of the Year and is a recipient of the Vodafone World of Difference and the Kiwibank community leader awards. Currently, McDougall is facing the toughest fight of his life, having been recently diagnosed with oesophageal cancer.
McDougall, also the founder of the Hawke’s Bay Youth Trust and Giants Boxing Academy, is scheduled to travel to Mexico in three weeks for his life-saving treatment. Despite being twice informed that his condition could be palliative rather than curative, his spirit remains undeterred.
Previously, McDougall dreamed of representing New Zealand in boxing at the 2004 Olympic Games. However, personal circumstances did not permit him to do so. He later aimed to swim across the Cook Strait, reaching halfway before a tumor-induced fatigue compelled him to pull back.
McDougall knows now that he’d been battling symptoms of cancer for nearly eight years. Difficulty in swallowing was one of the main symptoms, with dry-retching being the most noticeable. He underwent two procedures and an operation, consequent to which he was diagnosed with a form of cancer that is typical in older people, especially those with higher morbidity risk profiles.
However, McDougall, a 47-year-old fit and enthusiastic man, has vowed to do everything within his power to recover. Having completed 10 weeks of chemotherapy, he is also open to alternative medicine, in a bid to continue serving the young folks of Hawke’s Bay.
Having established a Givealittle page with the aim of raising funds for his and his wife Vicki’s trip to the Sanoviv Medical Institute in Mexico, he clarifies that the kind donations and gestures of solidarity he and his family have received are what truly test his resolve. Emotional expressions of support from others move him deeply.
McDougall remains humble, saying, “I’m no more important than anyone else.” Yet, he sees positive aspects in his situation, pointing out that it has allowed him time to set things in order and make lasting memories for his children.
His spirit embodies optimism and courage in the face of disease, showcasing that it’s not just about surviving, but about retaining the drive to make a difference to those around him.