Messam to fight for 9-year-old boy battling cancer

By Te Ao - Māori News

Former All Black Liam Messam is gearing up to fight in the boxing ring for 9-year-old boy who is being treated for a brain tumour.

In November last year, the son of Messam's whānau friend, Antonio Pohatu- Barbarich, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a cancerous tumour at the base of his skull.

Antonio's mum, Maringiringi Pohatu, says her energy has been focused on the present moment and being there for him.

She says, "It's a cancerous tumour based down in the cerebral part of his brain and it was quite large. It was not the size of a tennis ball but almost that sort of size."

The tumour was causing excruciating headaches, so as soon as it was possible, Antonio was taken into Starship Children's Health facility in Auckland. Antonio's mum says the doctors got him onto steroids to stop the swelling.

"It was just full on, it was really out of it to be a part of."

She says the next day Antonio was in surgery for seven and a half hours.

"They were able to remove the mass of the tumour but of course they can't remove everything."

Give a little

A Givealittle fundraising page has been set up and Antonio's mum is overwhelmed with the support her whānau has received so far.

She says, "I want to thank you sincerely, respectfully and humbly for your words of support and your generous donations."

Pohatu says he has responded bravely, and with incredible determination for a little boy, to all of his surgeries and more recently the exhausting daily radiotherapy treatment.

"He lost weight and has had difficulty with loss of appetite. He was recently fitted by nose with a feeding tube to support his digestion system and help him gain weight. Antonio found this to be the most difficult procedure for him so far."

Fight for Antonio

Liam Messam says his whānau had asked him to share the Givealittle page on his social media but he had another idea.

"They just asked me to retweet the Givealittle page on my social media. I just thought I could do a lot more than just retweet."

Messam says the same day he was asked to share the crowd funding page for Antonio, a friend from Putaruru said they were having a fight night and asked if he could participate.

"I had a light bulb moment go off in my head and just thought you know, I could jump back in the ring for this young fella, and try toraise as much money as we can to ease the burdens I guess, and the struggles they have to go through."

The Iron Fist 10 Fight Night is at the Don Rowlands Centre in Cambridge and starts at 5pm.