Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei artists join us to promote the importance of mammograms
A group of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei artists has teamed up with Breast Cancer Foundation NZ (BCFNZ) to encourage wāhine to book their mammograms.
Te Puāwai weavers – Ruth Cullen-Scott, Vicky Pollock, Beronia Scott, Jodi-ann Warbrick and Kororia Witika – appear in BCFNZ’s new awareness campaign, Mammograms for Us, released this October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The film centres around the idea that we all have a role to play to look after our wāhine, because they do so much to look after us. It aims to change the conversation for women who don’t always put themselves, or their health, first and it calls on whānau and friends to tell the wāhine they love to book a mammogram.
One of the weavers, Beronia Scott, went through breast cancer in 2020 and credits the mammogram that diagnosed her for saving her life.
Beronia says: “If it wasn’t for that mammogram, I wouldn’t be here today. It’s so important we go for regular mammograms because they are all about being here for your whānau. Mammograms can help you be on this planet longer for them, so they are 100 percent worth doing.”
Around 400 wāhine Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and it is the leading cause of death for Māori women under 65. Early detection through screening mammograms offers the greatest protection – the 10-year survival rate for breast cancer detected via mammogram is 95%, but this falls to 85% if a woman finds a lump.
“We know wāhine Māori are disproportionately affected by breast cancer so we’re grateful to be working with Ngāti Whātua Orākei whānau kairaranga to motivate more wāhine to go for their mammograms,” says Ah-Leen Rayner, chief executive of BCFNZ.
“Mammograms are free for women aged 45-69 and they only take 10 minutes every two years. They can spot breast cancer before you can feel or see any symptoms, which means your chances of successful treatment are much higher. The best thing you can do for you and your loved ones is to book a mammogram today,” adds Rayner.
BCFNZ published a report earlier this year called “30,000 Voices: Informing a better future for breast cancer in Aotearoa New Zealand” which found that a wāhine Māori’s risk of dying has decreased by 32%, but Māori are still more likely to die from breast cancer than Pākehā. Māori also have the lowest screening participation rates (59% vs 66% for all ethnicities as of June 2022), and this has fallen to an all-time low since Covid lockdowns disrupted the breast screening programme.
BreastScreen Aotearoa runs the national breast screening programme and women can call 0800 270 200 or visit timetoscreen.nz/breast-screening to book a mammogram.
Mammograms For Us can be viewed here: youtu.be/7dm0mQEJyc4