From left, Sara Hurren of St Vincents Oncology unit, Sue Hutton specialist breast nurse, Sharon Cook project officer, and Margaret Foster co-facilitator of Lismore and district breast cancer support group.
From left, Sara Hurren of St Vincents Oncology unit, Sue Hutton specialist breast nurse, Sharon Cook project officer, and Margaret Foster co-facilitator of Lismore and district breast cancer support group. David Nielsen

New tool in fight against Indigenous cancer

HELPING local Aboriginal women with ovarian or breast cancer find the services they needed was the idea behind a new directory launched in Lismore yesterday.

Specialist breast nurse and Lismore and District Breast Cancer Support Group co-facilitator, Sue Hutton, said 27 per cent of cancer patients on the North Coast were ovarian or breast cancer patients and it was the biggest cancer risk affecting local Aboriginal women.

That is why project officer Sharon Cook saw a need for the North Coast Aboriginal Breast and Ovarian Cancer Service Directory.

The breast cancer support group was awarded a $10,000 grant to make the directory, and was also supported by the Polo Ralph Lauren Pink Pony Campaign.

The directory lists contacts for women diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer who live in the Bundjalung, Yeagl and Gumbainggir nations, and Torres Strait Islander women living on the North Coast.

It also includes contact details for government, non-government and community organisations, as well as contacts for local transport services and support groups.

Ms Cook took on the project while she was working four days a week as the Aboriginal health education officer at Coraki Community Health.

“I had an extra day up my sleeve and I'm interested in women's health, so I put my hand up to do the directory,” Ms Cook said.

“In my own community at Coraki, we are planning to hold a breast screening day next month and Lismore Women's Health is coming out to talk to us about women's health.”

Ms Cook said there was a need in the community for the directory and she hoped it would make life a little easier for people battling with cancer.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island women should see their local Aboriginal health education officer and get tested,” Ms Cook said.

“It is a big problem in our community and if people are not sure where to turn, they can find someone who can help in the directory.”

The directory is available from local community health centres and Aboriginal medical services.



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