Benny shares the importance of cancer support this NAIDOC week

NAIDOC Week (3–10 July) is a time to recognise and celebrate the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people while raising awareness about health inequities to help close the gap in survival disparities for cancer and other chronic diseases.

 

The theme for 2022 is Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! which encourages all Australians to fight for a better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

 

Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! promotes a systemic change to close the health inequities Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still face today.

 

NAIDOC Week celebrations are held around Australia from 3–10 July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

 

Cancer Council Queensland and BuAkoko Mabo (Bua/ Benny Mabo Jr), third-generation Mabo, are working together to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are impacted by a cancer diagnosis to access Cancer Council Queensland’s various support services.

 

Benny Mabo Jr

 

Benny, a professional translator and advocate for the preservation of the Torres Strait Island Meriba culture, was diagnosed with oesophageal and tonsil cancer in November last year, and subsequently underwent chemotherapy and radiation.

 

Benny has been described as a ray of sunshine by his loved ones and maintains that “a little smile can open up the universe.”

 

Recently, Benny stayed at Cancer Council Queensland’s Gluyas Rotary Lodge in Townsville and took advantage of their Transport to Treatment service. He has been known to ‘light up the room’ and never turns down the opportunity for a chat with friends and strangers.

 

Cancer Council Queensland General Manager, Cancer Support and Information, Gemma Lock, said it was people like Benny that made the work of the charity so important.

 

“In 2021, our accommodation lodges provided 17,823 nights of accommodation and our Transport to Treatment services travelled over 195,676 kilometres to connect cancer patients and their carers to the support they needed,” Ms Lock said

 

“Patients like Benny often need to travel from regional and remote areas to access vital cancer treatment that they wouldn’t otherwise receive.

 

“The lodges provide support to those who need to travel for cancer treatment, offering practical services like transport to treatment.”

 

Cancer Council Queensland researcher Dr Jessica Cameron said that recent research has revealed improvements in the percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who survive at least 5 years after being diagnosed with cancer, however their survival rates are still lower than other Queenslanders.

 

“Life expectancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who’ve been diagnosed with cancer is unfortunately also lower than other Australians. Cancer screening can help improve outcomes and Cancer Council Queensland has found that the rate of participation in screening for cervical cancer was higher where women had access to culturally appropriate primary health care, particularly via Aboriginal Community-Controlled health Organisations,” Dr Cameron said.

 

Ms Lock says that NAIDOC week is a timely reminder that our work isn’t finished in ensuring equal access to cancer care and support.

 

“We continue to work every day to close the gap and improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she said.

 

Cancer Council Queensland is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people living with cancer.  We do this by raising funds for research, early detection, prevention, and information and support programs.

 

For more information on Cancer Council Queensland’s practical support services please visit cancerqld.org.au or call 13 11 20.

 

For more information on NAIDOC week please visit https://www.naidoc.org.au/

 

5 July 2022.