Lorraine Staunton350The cancer outcomes for Maori are clear: Maori are 28 per cent more likely to get cancer and 71 per cent more likely to die from it than non-Maori.

In our region prostate cancer affects Maori men the most, and for Maori women it is breast cancer.

Nelson Marlborough Health’s He Huarahi Matepukupuku project, funded by the Ministry of Health, aims to improve access to cancer services and cancer outcomes for Maori people.

Lorraine Staunton, educator and manager for improving the cancer pathway for Maori says the project has a range of goals.

“It’s about education - educating whanau on the importance of early detection,” she says, “and educating healthcare workers to improve the cultural appropriateness of our healthcare services.”

The project has rolled out a number of initiatives so far, including community hui, education sessions and programmes to improve health literacy and support whanau coping with cancer.

Andy Joseph350Andy's story

An invitation to attend a community hui led Nelson Marlborough Health Kaumatua, Archdeacon Andy Joseph, to his own diagnosis.

Andy arrived early, picked up a Cancer Korero booklet and as he read through a checklist of symptoms associated with prostate cancer tears welled up in his eyes. He realised he’d experienced them all in the past year.

“I broke down, I just couldn’t believe it was happening to me.”

The next day Andy saw his doctor; he was referred to a specialist who later diagnosed prostate cancer.

If he hadn’t picked up the booklet Andy says the cancer could have remained undetected.

His advice to men is to take responsibility, know the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer and visit the doctor to get checked out.

“Forget about the bravado... Ko e whakama - don’t be shy.”

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