Why Cancer is No Shame Job

Cancer is a sickness that attacks your body like many other diseases but one thing it’s not, is a Shame Job.

A cancer diagnosis, cancer treatments, seeking help from doctors, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and other health professionals are all normal parts of a cancer journey.

Sometimes your body will change because of cancer treatments. You might look different, feel different and not be able to do what you used to do before your cancer diagnosis. All these things are normal, and you should never feel Shame Job about them.

Cancer is not:

  • your fault
  • a breach of cultural protocols
  • taboo, or 
  • a transmitted disease (something you can catch from someone else).

Feeling Shame Job can be overwhelming, disempowering and can also become a barrier to you to seeking help and support from others. This is why feeling Shame Job cannot become a part of your cancer journey. 

 It’s important to remove all barriers so you can access information, healthcare, support, and complete the treatment your health team recommends. 

Feeling Shame Job might make you hesitate to see a doctor when you have a symptom – but the earlier cancer is found the better.  It’s ok to talk about cancer and get the support you need. Most changes aren’t due to cancer, but it’s important to get checked and be sure. 

Our mob who have had cancer say that it helps to acknowledge unspoken fears and worries when dealing with any Shame Job feelings and thoughts about cancer.

Sometimes it can help to share our worries, such as: 

  • wondering “What is going to happen?” and “Why did this happen to me?” 
  • being away from home, Country and/or family in a new place
  • people we don’t know examining our bodies and undergoing tests
  • people seeing parts of our body that are private and we never show 
  • sharing lots about our story, but doctors don’t share about them
  • worried about unkind things being said, about racism, being judged
  • finding it hard to say how we feel
  • having bad experiences before and worrying about that again

These things can hold us back. If we yarn with someone we trust, we will feeling stronger and find ways to get through all the hardships along a cancer journey.

If you ever feel blame or Shame Job during your cancer journey, have a yarn to people you trust and support you. You can also talk to your doctor and/or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers.