In 2018, the AGCF awarded Dr Aime Powell the Cindy Sullivan Fellowship to begin her outstanding research project, titled Aboriginal women at increased risk of cervical cancer incidence and mortality: Quantifying the risk in an era with national prevention programs.
This project investigates why Aboriginal women continue to experience inequitable and poorer health outcomes in the prevention of cervical cancer, despite having access to the National HPV Vaccination Program and the National Cervical Screening Program.
As part of her project, Aime spoke to women about their survival stories. This is Natasha’s.
In 2013, Natasha was diagnosed with cervical cancer after visiting her GP. “It wasn’t so much worrying about myself,” said Natasha. “It was more so what it meant for my family and how it would affect them.”
For her treatment program, Natasha had 5 rounds of chemotherapy and 35 rounds of radiotherapy. That whole time in her life was a blur, and she had never felt so tired. All she could think about was her kids. But going through that experience, Natasha learned the hard way to look after herself.
With 4 out of 5 women who develop cervical cancer in Australia never having had a screening or not screening regularly, it is the most important step for early detection.
Natasha knows that no woman wants to get a pap smear. She put hers off as long as possible. “Lots of times as a mother or a woman, you don’t put yourself first,” she says. “But I think going through that experience I learned the hard way that you need to… you can’t look after your family if you can’t look after yourself.”
Natasha tells other women to “just get it done”. The screening test saved her life.
Watch her video below.