- having your regular cervical screening test (women aged 20–70 years) and any follow-up treatment if required
- having your HPV immunisation (girls from age 11)
It can happen at any age.
Mekura Taiaroa-Briggs is the Kaumatua/Taua for the Canterbury Cervical Screening Service programme that encourages Māori women to have regular cervical smears taken.
Whaea Mekura is a survivor of cervical cancer that was successfully treated when she was 60.
"Now I’m passionate about telling people about my experiences so they will seek help early if they have a problem with a cervical abnormality and get it treated before it develops into cancer. Having a smear test regularly means that problems can be picked up and treated even before there are any visible symptoms. I tell my story so our wahine Māori won’t be whakamā about these things and will have the smear test done.
"I nearly left it too late. It was early in 1987 that I noticed an unusual discharge, but I just thought it was an after-effect of menopause so I did nothing about it. About eleven months later I visited my daughter and she had me at the doctor straight away because she was shocked at how I looked.
"I was quickly in hospital, diagnosed with advanced cancer of the cervix. The doctor said one more month and it would have been too late for treatment. On my sixtieth birthday, warmed and strengthened by the awhi and aroha of my family, I began six weeks of radiation treatment. Throughout the treatment we focussed on a positive attitude, and did karakia and the treatment was successful.
Where to get support
Korowai Aroha provides free screening for all Rotorua residents who visit their Convenient Care Clinic on Pukuatua Street (located next to WINZ).
The Convenient Care Clinic helps with immunisations, cervical smears and screening and assistance for a variety of other health conditions. There are 2 consultation rooms to support whānau which will help cut down your wait times.
For those enrolled with Korowai Aroha, Cervical Smears are FREE, so feel free to make your appointment today. Call them on 07 348 8454