September is Cervical Screening Awareness Month, and the low rate of wāhine Māori having the checks—and the disproportionately high number dying of cervical cancer—is of continuing concern to health advocates.
Vera Wipani says after one of her regular three-yearly checks spotted some abnormalities—which after further investigation proved benign—she started encouraging all her friends and whānau to get regular smears.
She still finds the procedure embarrassing, but the peace of mind is worth it.
"You know, I still hate getting on that table, it's the most awful thing. Especially for a Māori woman, that's not always been the easiest thing to do. To jump up on the table and 'bare your wares', it's always been a tapu thing but it's changing times. If you can save your life from a 15-minute check, then just do it," she says.
Verna Wipani says as a young grandmother, she realises how important her health is so that she can be around to support her tamariki and mokopuna.
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