Over 200 people walked in the inaugural Musgrave Park Cancer Walk at Musgrave Park, South Brisbane, on Sunday, 2 February 2014 to raise cancer awareness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment.
The Musgrave Park Cancer Walk was a precursor to World Cancer Day on 4 February 2014 and brought together over 200 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people. The event was an opportunity to talk about cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, cancer treatment and care options, the importance of early detection and the need for regular cancer checkups.
Senior Menzies cancer researcher, Associate Professor Gail Garvey said it was fitting for the inaugural walk to coincide with this year’s World Cancer Day theme, ‘Debunk the myths’
In her opening comments, Assoc Prof Garvey mentioned common cancer myths in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that discourage discussion, leaving people to deal with a diagnosis or course of treatment alone, disoriented and fearful.
- Myth 1: Cancer = death
- Myth 2: If I talk about cancer, I might get it
- Myth 3: If I get cancer, it’s payback
The aim of the Musgrave Park Cancer Walk is to encourage open, honest discussion about cancer. Dispelling these myths and moving foward will help to support members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community through their cancer journey.
“Until recently cancer has been a low priority on the Indigenous health agenda, despite the disease being the second leading cause of death among Indigenous people and accounting for a greater number of deaths each year than diabetes and kidney disease,” Assoc Prof Garvey said.
“The Musgrave Park Cancer Walk was a great success as 146 people registered for the Musgrave Park Cancer Walk and another 50 people who also joined in”.
“The community spirit and togetherness was clearly evident on the day with families travelling from Tweed Heads, NSW and south–west of Brisbane to attend the Musgrave Park Cancer Walk to speak at and join the Musgrave Park Cancer Walk”.
“Over 20 Aboriginal men, women and children formed the Lola Brown Memorial Group in honour of their mother, aunty and grandmother who recently passed away travelled over 200km in total from Laidley, southwest of Brisbane, to join the Musgrave Park Cancer Walk”.
The walk was a joint initiative between the National Indigenous Cancer Network (NICaN), Menzies School of Health Research, the Aboriginal and Islander Community Health Service – Brisbane Ltd, Musgrave Park Family Fun Day, Cancer Council Queensland, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and Qld Aboriginal and Islander Health Council.
The second Musgrave Park Cancer Walk will be held the weekend before World Cancer Day in 2015.
FACTS ABOUT INDIGENOUS CANCER
- Cancer survival is lower for Indigenous Australians than it is for non-Indigenous Australians
- It is the second leading cause of death among Indigenous people, accounting for a greater number of deaths each year than diabetes and kidney disease
- The death rate for all cancers combined and for most individual cancers is significantly higher for Indigenous than other Australians: e.g. cervical cancer (4.4 times), lung cancer (1.8), pancreatic cancer (1.3) and breast cancer in females (1.3)
- Indigenous Australians have a much lower incidence of some cancers compared to other Australians (breast, prostate, testicular, colorectal and brain cancer, melanoma of skin, lymphoma and leukaemia) but they have a much higher incidence of others (lung and other smoking-related cancers, cervix, uterus and liver cancer).
- Cervical cancer incidence rate is almost three times as higher for Indigenous Australians as for non-Indigenous Australians (18 and 7 per 100,000 respectively).
- Incidence rates of lung cancer are significantly higher for Indigenous Australians than for non-Indigenous Australians (1.9 times)