DVD for Maori women aims to save lives
Three Maori women have broken their silence and shared their personal stories of breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery in the hope that they can encourage more Maori women to go for breast screening which could save their lives.
The ‘Women to Women’ DVD was launched at Te Manukanuka o Hoturoa Marae (Auckland Airport Marae) in April.
The DVD was developed by the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation (NZBCF) with the support of Tainui Mapo and Maori health promoters in Manukau and is titled ‘Women to Women: Our Ups and Downs’ (Wahine kit e wahine Nga Piki Nga Heke).
In NZ, the incidence of breast cancer in Maori women goes against worldwide findings on indigenous races; Maori women have a significantly higher incidence of breast cancer to non-Maori. As a result, breast cancer is a significant health concern for Maori women and has a major and disproportionate impact on their community.
This is evidenced by the following statistics in relation to breast cancer in NZ today:
Maori women have:
• A 42.8% higher incidence of breast cancer than non-Maori women
• An almost 50% higher chance than non-Maori of dying from breast cancer
• Larger size breast cancers than non-Maori women
• Higher grade breast cancers (aggressive/higher growth rate) than non-Maori
• More positive lymph nodes in the armpit results in a poorer prognosis than non-Maori women (often due to late detection of breast cancer)
• A higher incidence in young Maori women/there is a need to advocate for screening Maori women under 45 years for breast cancer.
One of the three women featured in the DVD is 50 year old Denise Simons of Glenbrook (Ngati Maniapoto / Ngai te Rangi / Ngati Rangainui te iwi) who, with her daughter Jodie Robertson recounts the emotional rollercoaster of her breast cancer diagnosis. Denise wants Maori women to stand side by side in protecting their health. “If there is one women I can reach out and touch so she follows the breast health processes to keep herself well then my job is done” she says.
‘Women to Women’ will be distributed as a pilot education programme through health workers in Counties Manukau region with the aim of broadening its audience following evaluation. Maori women who would like to view the DVD can contact National Breast Health Educator, Patricia Field at the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation on 0800 902 732.
NZBCF Chief Executive Evangelia Henderson hopes that ‘Women to Women’ will be a valuable tool in educating Maori women about breast cancer. “In having three Maori women share their journey and recovery in their own words we hope to allay some fears about breast screening and remove a barrier to having regular mammograms.”
1. Ministry of Health (2010). Cancer: New Registrations and Deaths 2007. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
Source: NZBCF media release