More Top Stories

Editor's Pick
Editor's Pick

TB cases detected

1 June 2024

Sports
Court

Alleged rapist in remand

27 April 2024

National
Rugby league

Moana target 2025 World Cup

11 November 2022

Breast cancer survivor calls for more awareness efforts

Friday 7 June 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Health, National

Share

Breast cancer survivor calls  for more awareness efforts
Matanoanoa Tairi, whose breast cancer journey has been shared in the community, says simply talking about it or posting awareness on social media isn’t enough. 24060407

A breast cancer survivor believes there is a lack of breast cancer awareness in the Cook Islands and says it’s a topic that must be talked about.

Matanoanoa Tairi was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018 after a routine check-up at the Rarotonga Hospital.

Tairi said she had felt a lump during that time and waited until scheduled mammogram screening in July 2018.

“I just went straight to the doctors from Australia and told them that I had a lump in my left breast. They took me in, did my mammogram and did a biopsy straight after that, and they said that I had breast cancer,” Tairi said.

Tairi, whose breast cancer journey has been shared in the community, says simply talking about it or posting awareness on social media isn’t enough. There needs to be more awareness campaigns on the radio, with notices on roads, and through informative programmes about cancer and health, she adds.

Screening for breast cancer is currently not available in the Cook Islands. Te Marae Ora/Ministry of Health (TMO) has been in the process of procuring a new mammogram machine since last year.

On Wednesday, TMO confirmed they are still in the early stages of procuring a new mammogram machine and haven’t made significant progress since the last update.

Reiterating TMO’s advice, Tairi encouraged women to perform self-examinations.

“I’m not sure whether it’s budget or the machine just can’t be obtained, but in light of that, with no mammogram, we can still do a self-risk examination. And also, the welfare, CIFWA, across the clinic, they run sessions of self-risk examination,” she said.

“The awareness is not out there. It doesn’t reach the grassroots community.”

Tairi said that awareness for breast cancer seems to mostly appear in October – the dedicated breast cancer awareness month.

“It’s not only October.  Well, of course, it’s the month for awareness, but what about the other times.”

Tairi has called on women not to be shy but to get out there and get checked.

“If you see something wrong with your body, go and see the doctor. Don’t be shy because we don’t know what will develop if you don’t see the medical experts.

“Some women have passed on because they didn’t get themselves checked or some refused treatment.”

She urged all the mamas out there, “just go and get yourself checked or you can do a self-breast examination”.

“You can check yourself when you have your shower, after your shower, during your shower … from your armpits and then over your breasts, just feel if there’s no lumps there. And once you notice a lump, then you should go and get yourself checked.”

Tairi added that “a person’s mind is a killer” and it is important to stay and think positive about one’s health.