Our women play a valued and essential role in family and community that creates balance in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, community, and culture. Women have distinct roles and responsibilities, performing specific tasks that benefit those we care about and Country.
It is one of many reasons why it is important for you to take care of yourself during your cancer journey. Your family and your mob need you around for a long time to keep our knowledge systems and traditions alive one generation to another.
Women’s Business is crucial when dealing with cancer. It’s important to conduct Women’s Business during your cancer journey for you and others. Our wellbeing is strengthened when we are active in our Women’s Business.
While Women’s Business is conducted differently in each family and community, it will often include things like:
- the health and wellbeing of our women and children
- ceremony and protocol
- making decisions about how we conduct family and community business
- taking care of sacred sites, and
- continuing culture through language, song, dance, art, and storytelling.
You can request that cultural protocol is followed where gender-specific cancer is present or symptoms resulting from a cancer diagnosis are impacting your reproductive organs, or any other part of your body.
For women who have a symptom or a change in your body, it’s important to make sure you get it investigated early. The earlier cancer is found, the better for you and your family. Talk to your female health practitioner about getting any change in your body checked.
Cancers that can affect only women include gynaecological cancers which are cancers of the female reproductive system. Gynaecological cancers include cancers of the ovaries, womb, including endometrium (lining of the womb), cervix, vagina and vulva.
The most common cancer in women is breast cancer, which can also affect men. Other common cancers in women include cervical cancer, lung cancer, bowel cancer and head and neck cancers.
Most changes don’t turn out to be cancer, but it’s really important to get checked to be sure.
- ask for female health practitioners (doctors and nurses) throughout your cancer journey
- have another female (mother, grandmother, aunty, sister, partner, friend etc.) attend medical appointments and procedures with you as a support person
- call on the women in your family and community to conduct Women’s Business and ceremony to help you through your cancer journey
- ask for a female advocate to assist you navigate your medical treatment, and
- ask that health practitioners (doctors and nurses) and healthcare providers respect and uphold Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Women’s Business protocols.
Remember, our families and mob are our best teachers. Leaning on your Elders and family to help you uphold cultural protocol during your cancer journey is an important part of your treatment plan. If you need help with Women’s Business, talk to your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker.