Mammograms and laughter

Today I joined 17 Indigenous woman for an education session on breast cancer. We started off the day hearing about the latest medical updates with breast cancer. The group of women I attended with shared stories of breast cancer from themselves or family and friends and we talked the way a group of black women talk, we found lots to laugh about with each other and to share with each other.

We had to evacuate the building because of a suspected fire, after waiting outside for about twenty minutes it was time to come back in. Of course there were the cheeky calls from some Elders for the fire fighters to come in and join us.

We talked about bush medicine and how to use it while having western medical treatment for not just cancer but all kinds of ailments. Women who were due to have a mammogram had one.

I was surprised at how easy it was to have a mammogram. I was expecting to have to change into a hospital gown and wait. But the lovely ladies at BreastScreen Qld, took us one at a time to have ours done.

I went into the darkened room where the radiographer, Sabine waited for me. I removed my shirt and bra and she pushed and pulled my breasts one at a time into position and took her shot and it was all over. So quick that it took about 20 minutes from start to end.

I was relieved to have it out of the way. Next one in two years time.

For Indigenous women they can get mammograms from the age of 40, non Indigenous women from the age of 50. 20 minutes every two years is not long when you consider it can save your life


White FOMO

I’ve got a friend, well she is fast becoming an exfriend. I used to take her to NAIDOC and share the big Brisbane Friday with her, encourage her to talk to people in the stalls and learn.

I thought I had taught her well, but I had not. When I wasn’t living in Brisbane and while I was sick, she went on the day, but instead of learning it became a day for her to grab as many goodies as she could.

She would get all the free pens and pencils and the colouring books and bags and pencil cases. She laughed about doing this and going to the Elders tent and getting a free feed. She was imitating an auntie who I introduced her to. This auntie would always laugh and say, you’ll find me their getting my cuppa and a free feed and catching up with everyone. But ask this friend to go to an event that she had to pay? Don’t ask her to go to a Reconciliation event and work. She can only swan around big noting herself.

I have told her off over the years about this attitude and so have other Indigenous friends. This year she came to visit me afterwards and had all the papers from bags and packs from the Friday and gave them all to me. By giving me all the information she is showing that she doesn’t just throw them out. She just wanted the fun things and joked that she didn’t need to buy fruit for a while. Yes that was the last straw. I told her off and explained why she was doing the wrong thing and that she was a user and I don’t want her going to any more NAIDOC events. Other friends had the same talk with her when she sulked about me telling her off.

Yes that is typical behaviour to ask other Indigenous people, because it can’t be her, it has to be me that is wrong about her.

She is not the only white woman who does things like this at our events, they go so they can get freebies and have pictures to post on social media and appear to be a caring person.

We all know those white women who are only there to make themselves look good. The ones who then will tell other people that they know more about Indigenous peoples because they have friends and they don’t say they go to NAIDOC. They say that they are known in the community and are part of everything. They use the attendance of NAIDOC as a badge to get better jobs or to talk over black people, because they think they know.

But back to this one that I’m talking about. So her sulk to other Indigenous women is suck a typical action of a white woman. She of course is right and I am wrong. She thinks it’s a hoot to go to NAIDOC and just get free things, she thinks it’s her right as a white woman to take these things and not give back to our community.

She then hit me up after I went to Pride march giving hugs. She wants to do that. She want’s to join the “Deadly Mum Hugs”. Says that she has no problem paying for the T-shirt and will even pay for me to get a new one next year. I politely said no. Telling her it’s not all sequins and giggles. She then approached my daughter who is out, telling her that she discussed it with me and that she will be good and can she go, telling daughter that she will just follow her around. Daughter was not happy about this. She doesn’t want to be taking care of some weird cis white woman who will more than likely laugh at people, without a care that she is insulting them.

The soon to be exfriend spoke to the other Indigenous friends we have in common, talking about going to Pride and that it’s for everyone, not just my personal domain because I have a gay daughter. Of course she wants a Deadly Mum Hugs T-shirt to wear, using us to give her credibility.

If you think this is over the top, it is and it’s true. So many white women, just use black and brown women, hell even socially acceptable gay women.

The white woman has to be a part of everything to show that she cares. When she isn’t really caring she is using us to get her own credibility up. It’s all about her and she then is the victim if you dare to stop her or question her motives.

I have been mulling on this, and decided that I would write and post this week, because Ruby Hamad will be talking about her book “White Tears Brown Scars” This week. We as Indigenous women so often prop up white women that we don’t even realise we are doing it.

I expect so many white women to go to events and listen to Ruby and nod and look wise, while denying that they are the women doing this to Black and brown women. White women don’t like being told they have faults, they will join you in talking about the faults of white men. Never accepting that they play Scarlett O’Hara to so many non white women. They are so used to being put on a pedestal that they will fight to stay up there.


My Pop

Sharing your stories…

 

I went to visit my pop in the local hospital he had been in because he has the cancer in him. He was lying in his bed looking real sad and I knew something was up. I asked him if he was alright, he said he was but that he was a bit sad. I thought he was sad at being in hospital and not at home with nana. I had a chuckled and told him it won’t be long til he’s back at home in his garden and anyway nana was visiting him that night. He looked at me and held my hand and said babygirl I hope you never have to be in a hospital like this. Iasked him what was wrong, he told me that he had been laughed at for not quite making it to the toilet. I told him never mind the other patients, he told me that it was a hospital worker a man who laughed at my pop and asked my pop if boongs stoped drinking would that stop them from pissing on themselves.  I cried and hugged my pop, I told him I don’t want to hear anymore. I pressed the buzzer and spoke to the nurse. I told her what had happened, she said she couldn’t see _ _ _ _ _ _ saying this. She said she would look into it. I said she wouldn’t because her attitude was that pop was lying and _ _ _ _ _ wasn’t. I told pop to wait for me and I walked out of the ward, I went up to the nurses station and I told them all what happened to my pop. I told them loudly because I wanted them to all know. One person said they would call security if I didn’t quieten down. But I didn’t I kept telling them, over and over again, until someone stopped and looked at me, looked at me properly. She called someone and told them to come down, she told me that what happened wasn’t right and that it will be taken care of properly. I waited this man in a suit came and I told him, he went to my pop, he shook his hand and said sorry. He told my pop that he wasn’t treated with respect. that word respect meant so much to pop. He went off, later he came back with the man who laughed at pop, he was made to apologize to pop. I think this man is actually going to do something about the man who upset my pop.


Knitting

I have finally taken the step towards relearning the fine art of knitting. It wasn’t as easy as others thought it would be. One Elder thought I would pick it up straight away with the needles in my hands, well I didn’t.

Needles in hand and wool at the ready, I used a YouTube starters video to watch. Casting on was terrible, I ended up with wool everywhere but none on the needle.

My son stepped in and helped me, he spend about an hour showing me and taking me step by step through it, taking the wool when it didn’t want to do what I wanted.

First problem was that I used to knit left handed, but now I can’t, so we tried again, right handed, it felt awkward and strange, but we made it through.

I started of with 20 stitches on the needle.

I have dropped some and added others, it’s a lot harder than I remember. Sometimes I seem to go alright and others I stop and have to remember what the steps are.

But that’s okay, I will eventually get it down pat, one day I will be able to knit like I used to and not have to pay attention to every step, I will be able to sit back and watch TV while the click clack of the needles goes merrily along.

I’m rather proud of myself, it might not look much to you, but to me it is a triumph over the tumour in my brain.

 


What a Week

It’s been a bit of an exciting week this week. I was rushed to hospital on Friday morning because I kept getting dizzy. I luckily left hospital on the Saturday afternoon. The doctor wanted me to stay longer, but if they can’t do anything and can only give me medication, I thought I might as well be at home. With strict instructions of what to do and kids being told what signs to look for to take me back to hospital I went off home

While I was in hospital the deadly Tanya caught up with me and gave me a turban for my head, to protect me.

The turban is made by the volunteers at the Princess Alexandra Hospital. Tanya from the Indigenous unit is getting them made in the Red, Black and Yellow.

We have so many reasons for covering our head, not just hair loss from medical reasons, some of us have to have our head covered until all signs of scaring are gone from out heads. We have to protect our head from the spirits who might cause us problems, this is also a mental health issue in some areas.

Oh and as for me, well I have to wait the results of blood tests and have some more scans.


Supporting our Carers

Today I attended the Menzies “Supporting Our Carers” Roundtable survey. It was a good chat about what our Carers need and what we looked for in a carer and what we expected and hoped for from them.

Some of us had one carer or we had a variety of carers from our families. One group was people like myself who have had or have cancer

My daughter was in another group to talk about being a carer. She gave an insight into being a kid who had to grow up quick to be able to take care of mum. She still is caring for mum as she is my eyes when we go out. I have some issues with vision and she is my guide and tells me what I can’t see.

The group talked about how we found that it was immediate family who fell into the carer role, because they had no other choice. There were some differences in how much to tell the carer. We don’t want to worry our family so it’s often a need to know basis, especially if its a parent or children who is the main carer. We try to stand strong so we are not a burden on the carer. This can at times help us get through, but other times, it doesn’t allow us to let someone else carry the load.

When dealing with cancer the carer should be able to distance themselves to be able to talk to the doctors if the patient unable, this is something that we find is difficult when we are using family as carers, we don’t want them to be in a situation that will cause them stressThe simple questions opened up to lots of discussions about how we accept help from family. Some of the group had not been told by hospital what help they were eligible for, this is a common problem. We don’t know the questions to ask and nobody tells us. If your carer is white or has lighter skin they will be told more and helped more than if they are not.It can be hard on the carer when they find out that they are needed long after the initial diagnosis and treatment. The effects of cancer can linger for years, also the treatment can leave the body in a bad state that takes months or years to recover from.

We looked at a brochure and discussed how this could help with patients to give information on their journey through the health system. Cancer is a scary ride and no one really tells the full story of it. Most spoke of the hidden costs of cancer and how their is now warning of this and how this can cause as much stress as the diagnosis. Treatments can have a damaging effect on the body.

Being involved with studies like this are easy and they help with our mob in the long run.


Cancer carers needed for study

I urge you to get involved with this study. Research helps to find out where there are gaps in services.

We as Indigenous people know there are so many gaps that affect our survival of cancer