Being cancer aware

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The Point Cook Indian community hosts an Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea Fundraiser

You probably know that Indians are the fastest growing migrant community in Australia. But what you may not be aware of is that the incidence of cancer is also at an all-time high within the Australian Indian community.

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Sudhir, Vandana and Deepti

These alarming statistics motivated Vandana Verma to initiate an Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea Fundraising Campaign at Point Cook Community Centre at the end of July. Apart from being an administration coordinator at the Cancer Council, Vandana also works as a bilingual health facilitator for the Indian community, which has helped her understand at close quarters the prevalence of cancer as well as the myths surrounding this disease within the community.
“I have noticed that, unlike many other migrant communities, the Indian community does not come together enough on the issue of health and remains largely unaware of the services that are offered,” Vandana told Indian Link.
Cancer.Indian Link
To make this fundraising campaign a reality, Vandana joined hands with Sudhir Juneja of the Western Gymkhana Club, and local volunteer Deepti Sharma. They also received support from Wyndham City Council.
The fundraising event began with an awareness session, during which time Vandana spoke about the Cancer Council’s cultural diversity program which aims to improve cancer survival outcomes for the different migrant and refugee community groups in Victoria.
Cancer.Indian Link
“We want to inform migrants that early diagnosis of cancer is important,” Vandana said. “According to the research available, many migrants do not participate in the screening and prevention programs ot access support services that are available to them in Australia; this has resulted in poor cancer outcomes compared to the [wider] Australian community.”
The main role of bilingual officers like Vandana is to inform the community of the crucial need for early diagnosis and prevention, and how to access these services. The officers also work in close coordination with Cancer Council Services to help develop tailored programs and information to suit the needs of the different communities.
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Vandana also spoke at length about different ways in which we can reduce our risk of getting cancer. Small modifications to improve general wellbeing, like a healthy nutritious diet, regular exercise, reducing alcohol consumption and maintaining a healthy weight and BMI are all ways in which we can greatly reduce the risk factors.
Vandana also stressed the importance of getting regular screening tests, especially if you fall into a high risk group or are over the age of 50. Being aware of the changes to one’s body and visiting a GP if you notice anything unusual is extremely important and might be a lifesaving decision. Remember, early diagnosis is one of the best ways to tackle the disease in its early stages and ensure a positive prognosis.
Cancer.Indian Link
Being SunSmart is another key factor in reducing the risk of skin cancer which has an extremely high incidence in Australia. This fact was stressed by Tanushree Arora, who has done extensive research as a scientist on skin cancer at La Trobe University. She also spoke about the myths that exist among the Indian community regarding cancer and why it is important to dispel these to ensure a healthy outcome for the community.
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“Every individual needs to look deeply into their lifestyle and ask themselves if they are investing enough for a healthy future,” said Sudhir Juneja. He works as a supply chain professional, but his desire to contribute to his local community in a positive manner encouraged him to set up the Western Gymkhana Club, a not-for-profit community organisation, aiming to bring members of the Indian community regular social, recreational, cultural, networking and professional development opportunities.
cancer.Indian Link
A deeply spiritual person, Deepti is a strong believer in good karma and for her that means contributing positively to the society she lives in. In spite of being a full time working mother, Deepti does volunteer work in the little spare time that she has. Having faced a medical crisis in her personal life, Deepti encourages women to take care of themselves and not neglect their health, which is often the case in Indian society. “Take care and listen to your body,” Deepti urged. “Only if you are in good health, will you be able to take care of the needs of your family.”
Cancer.Indian Link
It was not all serious talk at the event though; there were plenty of sweet treats, baked goodies, cakes, biscuits and nibbles, all of which were bought for the event by the members. A lucky draw was also held and the winner walked away with a delicious hamper from Jura and Cancer Council. A total sum of $897.60 was collected which the community donated to the Cancer Council.
For more information visit www.cancervic.org.au or call 13 14 50 for phone support in your language

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