Information for First Peoples
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in First Nations’ women.
If you are one of these women, or know one of these women, BCNA has information in different formats to help support you during treatment and beyond.
BCNA’s online resource My Journey provides information to support all people who are diagnosed with breast cancer. It includes information specifically for First Peoples.
When you sign into My Journey and check the box to identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, you will be welcomed with a video that features some of the First Peoples women in the BCNA community. We want you to feel supported and a part of our community right from the start.
You will be able to watch the videos outlined below, read information about breast cancer treatment and care, and find links to other information that may be helpful to you.
My Journey is available as a downloadable app on your smartphone or tablet, or via web browser on your laptop or computer.
BCNA has developed videos that feature First Peoples women talking about their experiences of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
To watch the videos and have access to a range of other articles and resources to help you at every stage of your breast cancer, sign up to My Journey via www.myjourney.org.au
First Peoples women share their breast cancer journey
Hear from First Peoples women about their experiences of being diagnosed with breast cancer and why you should connect with others and seek support and information.
Advice for our peoples and communities
It’s important to ask for help and accept help from the people around you, educate the younger generations about breast cancer, talk to your community and share stories.
Connection to culture
Discover why it’s important to look to your community, including friends and family, for strength and connection and how speaking to others who have had similar experiences can help you.
Family and support
Everyone copes differently during and after breast cancer treatment. The women share how they coped including having family and friends around to support them, speaking to other people around them and doing things that made them happy.
Questions to ask your healthcare professional
Don't be afraid to write down and ask questions you want to ask your doctors. People are often given lots of information which can be hard to understand all at once. Questions the women in the videos asked include learning more about treatment, access to healthcare and clinical trials, side effects of drugs and how to speak about your diagnosis to those around you.
Looking after yourself
Hear why it’s important to listen to your body and look after yourself, and why eating well and exercising can help you through your breast cancer treatment and afterwards.
Hear about women’s experiences with chemotherapy, radiotherapy (radiation) and surgery to help others adjust their expectations if they need these treatments.
Working during treatment
Women talk about how they managed their paid work while having treatment for breast cancer. The women share how adjusting your work schedule and having structure and something else to focus on may help you.
Worry about cancer coming back
Worrying about cancer coming back is normal and the women share what they do to help them worry less.
Culture is Healing: The making of a possum skin cloak
Led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander breast cancer survivors, a joint initiative between Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (Melbourne) and BCNA has seen a handmade possum skin cloak now available for First Peoples going through cancer treatment at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.
The cloak was made using traditional cultural techniques that have been used by communities in Victoria for centuries.
This video shows the making of the cloak.
Women’s Weaving Workshop
Sonja is a Quandamooka woman and artist who worked with BCNA on weaving workshops for First Nations women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Sonja’s cultural weaving practice reflects her family’s spiritual connections with the land and seas of Minjerribah, North Stradbroke Island.
In this podcast, Professor Jacinta Elston, an Aboriginal woman from Townsville who has been through breast cancer, draws on her own experience, as well as her insights from her distinguished career in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, to talk about challenges that First People with breast cancer face in navigating the healthcare system.
- Visit our Online Network where you will find a dedicated discussion group for First Peoples who have been through, or are going through, breast cancer.
- Read Cancer Australia’s ‘Cancer – what to expect: Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have cancer’
- Visit Cancer Australia’s website for information and a range of resources for First Peoples diagnosed with breast cancer.
BCNA uses the term First Peoples to refer to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This term is used on the recommendation of our First Peoples Advisory Group. BCNA recognises the differences that occur between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ culture including, but not limited to, language, customs, ceremonies and traditions.
First Peoples Advisory Group
BCNA’s First Peoples Advisory Group was formed in 2018 following an initial meeting in 2017. Its role is to provide advice to BCNA to help us better meet the needs of current and future First Peoples in our network.