Getting the mahi done for breast cancer

WBOP PHO Support to Screening coordinator Joanne Tuhakaraina, centre, has joined with the team at Waipu Hauora - Helen Te Kani, Keriana Hoko-Smith, Riria Gibbons and Hutiao Dickson – to organise mammograms for a group of Matapihi women.

A group of wahine Māori from Matapihi will be having a mammogram this month as part of a novel Pink Ribbon Breakfast event.

Pink Ribbon Breakfast is Breast Cancer Foundation NZ’s biggest fundraising campaign, held in May each year.

Waipu Hauora has been holding a Pink Ribbon Breakfast at Hungahungatoroa Marae in Matapihi for the past six years and this year will be donating its proceeds to the Breast Cancer Support Service Tauranga Trust.

With the support of the Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation’s Support to Screening team, some of the women attending the breakfast will be having a mammogram the day before, earning themselves a free ticket to the breakfast and a special pamper pack.

Waipu Hauora Whanau Ora coordinator Riria Gibbons says even if just a small group of women sign up for a mammogram, that’s a good outcome.

“It’s great to support the cause but even better to get the mahi (work) done. We will also have the PHO here on the day to sign women up to the national breast screening programme so they will be notified when the time comes.”

Women aged between 45 and 69 years can get a free mammogram every two years.

As well as enjoying a breakfast, women attending the event will learn about breast awareness and screening and the biopsy process.

“It’s about creating a safe space to ask questions. And by asking those questions those women will be helping others who want to know the same thing,” says Riria.

Breast cancer survivors will also speak, as well as representatives from the Breast Cancer Support Service Tauranga Trust.

“It will be a lot of fun, with everyone dressing up in pink to support their sisters across the motu (peninsula),” says Riria.

The Western Bay of Plenty PHO is close to reaching its Ministry of Health breast screening target of 70 per cent of wahine Māori in the region, but not all wahine Māori are enrolled with BreastScreen Midland.

PHO services leader Philippa Jones urges all wahine Māori aged 45-69 to enrol. “Enrolment is free and easy to do and may save your life. Your GP or the PHO’s Health and Wellness Services will be happy to support you to enrol.”

Screening coordinator Joanne Tuhakaraina says while breast screening rates are up, there is also a need to get cervical screening rates up.

“We have to target our Pacific Island and Asian women who also have low screening rates, and all those women out there who have never screened or are under-screened. They are a priority as well.”

The PHO’s Support to Screening team is often invited to speak to other health professionals about how they encourage women to screen, which includes promotion at events such as the Pink Ribbon Breakfast.

Last year the team promoted breast and cervical screening at the Tauranga Moana Tangata Tauranga Festival. More than 50 women underwent screening leading up to the Labour Weekend festival to earn ‘points’ for their marae towards the event’s supreme title.

If you would like to talk to someone about having a mammogram freephone BreastScreen Midland on 0800 270200.

The Waipu Hauora Pink Ribbon Breakfast is on Friday, May 31 from 8-10.30am. To purchase a ticket email Riria Gibbons at:

To see what’s involved in getting a mammogram watch this video about Māori broadcaster Stacey Morrison’s experience:

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