March 2017: Twice this week I have had conversations with women I have rung to tell them their mammogram appointments are due, and the talk has turned to their own experiences with mammograms, or their Mums passing with breast cancer, and both times, the women recounted how much they missed their Mums and they cried. I think that happens a lot during their daily life, or when they have reason to celebrate happy times within the whanau, and they imagine the joy their Mums would have had to share if they had been around.
My own mother used to tell me when I was growing up ‘When you lose your Mother, you lose your best friend” as I glibly passed it off and filed it in the ‘whenever’ part of my brain. But, Mum's words have come back to visit on many occasions, when I hear her favourite song on the radio, when I have situations that I need her advice, and surprisingly, I miss my mother on a daily basis. If I could have the time back, I would have spent more time with my Mum. I would have encouraged her to be healthier so that she would have been around for a while longer.
Mum didn’t get breast cancer, in fact I don’t think Mum even had a mammogram, they were not yet available in the system during her later years. That didn’t exclude women getting breast cancer, they did and more than likely died of it as a result, but the numbers were not well known or documented. The breast cancer statistics are very scary.
- Today 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
- This year 600+ will most likely die.
- Yet 30% of eligible women aren't enrolled in free screening.
- And 60% of young women don't know the signs beyond a lump.
So if you are one of the lucky ones out there who still have their Mum to be able to ring up and say ‘Hey Mum, I’m calling in on the way home from work to have a cup of tea, so do you have any apple pie left?’ then know that there are a lot of us who don’t have that particular privilege.
June Grant, Te Arawa Whānau Ora