“Get your mammogram so other mokopuna can have more time with their kuia”
Stacey Morrison’s 7-year-old daughter Maiana is urging Kiwi women to go for regular mammograms, as part of Breast Cancer Foundation NZ’s (BCFNZ) annual awareness-raising campaign.
Maiana never got to meet her nana, Stacey’s mother, because she died from breast cancer at the age of 45. Now Maiana’s voice is one of several kids’ being heard across the airwaves this October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month), as the narrator of Nan and the Pīwakawaka – one of a series of advertisements urging women, especially Māori, to book a mammogram.
Stacey Morrison, a BCFNZ Ambassador, said: “I really hope this campaign encourages women to get a mammogram, for the sake of their mokopuna, or mokopuna-to-be. I admit that hearing these cute little voices hit my heart, and not only because my own daughter Maiana voices one of the stories. Maiana never got to meet her nana Sue, my mum, because breast cancer cut her time short. Mum never meeting any of her mokopuna still upsets me, and I wish it could have been different, especially as she was only 45 when she died.
“Maiana had fun doing this story about how we can be scared of something, but then we realise we can find another way of looking at it, so it’s not so scary. That’s what kids of the next generation are asking their mums, aunties and nanas to do – be a little brave and get your mammogram. We would like to help make sure that more nanas get to have that precious time with their mokopuna.”
Claudine Thompson, a 71-year-old Ngāti Raukawa great-grandmother from Ōtaki, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018 after the last free mammogram she was eligible for detected a tiny lump in her breast. She said: “I’m so lucky my breast cancer was caught on a mammogram because it meant I didn’t have to go through chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Now I want all wāhine to know how important mammograms are – don’t be shy, it only takes 10 minutes and it’s worth it. Lord only knows what would have happened to me if it wasn’t caught early enough.”
Evangelia Henderson, BCFNZ chief executive, said: “Māori women are disproportionately affected by breast cancer in NZ – they are 35% more likely to be diagnosed, and 65% more likely to die of breast cancer. That’s why we’re calling on Māori, as well as all women, to book a mammogram.
“For inspiration, we turned to Māori culture, where storytelling is seen as a way of protecting the family. For generations elders have guided their mokopuna and tamariki by passing down stories containing values, traditions and ancestry. But maybe it’s time for the stories of our mokopuna to guide us? Through these stories we’re encouraging women to overcome common barriers and go for regular mammograms.”
As well as Maiana’s Nan and the Pīwakawaka story, there are three other Mokopuna Mythologies being broadcast on TV and radio this October: Nan and the Monster Weeds, Kuia Hana’s Octopus Arms, and Nan and the Eel.
Jessica Thompson Carr, a Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Ruanui and Ngāruahine artist from Dunedin, who illustrated Kuia Hana's Octopus Arms, said: “I wanted to be involved because it’s such an important kaupapa. Anyone can be affected by breast cancer and it’s vital to raise awareness of it all year round. If I can play a small part in encouraging someone to go get checked, then I feel like I’ve used my art well.”
Women have a 95% chance of surviving breast cancer five years or longer if the cancer is detected by a mammogram. Because the risk of breast cancer increases as you get older, BCFNZ recommends women consider having regular screening from age 40. Women aged between 45 and 69 are eligible for free mammograms through BreastScreen Aotearoa every two years, call 0800 270 200 to book one.