It’s ok to talk about cancer - Yarn for Life

Release Date: 

14/06/2019

News Type: 

  • Media Releases

In a national first, Cancer Australia has launched Yarn for Life, a new initiative to reduce the impact of cancer within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by encouraging and normalising discussion about the disease.

Cancer is a growing health problem and the second leading cause of death among Indigenous Australians who are, on average, 40 percent more likely to die from cancer than non-indigenous Australians.

The multi-faceted health promotion Yarn for Life has been developed by and with Indigenous Australians, and weaves the central message that it is okay to talk about cancer by sharing personal stories of courage and survivorship from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Yarn for Life features 3 individual experiences of cancer which are also stories of hope.

While significant gains have been made with regard to cancer overall, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to experience disparities in cancer incidence and outcomes. Cancer affects not only those diagnosed with the disease but also their families, carers, Elders and community,” said Dr Helen Zorbas, CEO, Cancer Australia.

Professor Jacinta Elston, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous), Monash University, said that finding cancer early gave people the best chance of surviving and living well.

Yarn for Life aims to reduce feelings of shame and fear associated with cancer and highlights the importance of normalising conversation around cancer and encouraging early detection of the disease,” stated Professor Elston. “It also emphasises the value of support along the patient journey.”

Australia’s first Australian Aboriginal surgeon Associate Professor Kelvin Kong, University of Newcastle said, “Yarn for Life seeks to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to participate in screening programs, discuss cancer with their doctor or health care worker openly, and if cancer is diagnosed, complete their cancer treatment.”

Associate Professor Kong said it was also important for health services to support better outcomes for Indigenous patients by being culturally aware.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, health and connection to land, culture community and identity are intrinsically linked. Optimal care that is respectful of, and responsive to, the cultural preferences, sensitivities, needs and values of patients, is critical to good health care outcomes.”

The Yarn for Life initiative is supported by two consumer resources which outline what patients should expect at all points on the cancer pathway.

Yarn for Life will feature television, radio and social media resources designed to be shared with friends, family and the community, to carry on the Yarn for Life conversation online.