"I was awkward at first, but it was all good. I'm glad I got it done," says Dana Vetemotu, who shares her experience getting her cervical screen test.
In New Zealand, about 160 women develop cervical cancer yearly – and about 50 die from it. Regular cervical screening tests can detect changes in the cervix. It's one of the easiest cancers to prevent.
Dana understands the importance of testing. Seven years ago, her test result came back with abnormal cells. She was then treated for a biopsy and now tests yearly.
"If I didn't get the test, who knows what would happen. I'd probably have cancer."
It was a stark reminder for Dana to prioritise her health as she always remembers her high school friend whose mother died young from cervical cancer at 27.
Dana is passionate about her community. After working as a hairdresser for 17 years, she switched careers. She's now the Community Coordinator for the Te Whatu Ora Counties Manukau Bowel Screening Programme.
"I'm new to the job, but after learning about the high stats for Maaori who get bowel cancer, I want to help our Kaumātua."
Dana works at the same place she came to get her test done. When it was time to check this year, she attended the Mana Wahine Daya at Manukau SuperClinic for Breast and Cervical screening.
"It's a day for wahine to come together. When I arrived, there was yummy food and pop-up stalls with other health services.
"All the ladies were eating and chatting. One lady talked about her mammogram, whipped it out, and we were laughing. Another shared she didn't know about this event and was picked up for her appointment.
“Being together helps to normalise these types of tests. With maaori, we always end with food. It makes it less serious, and it's how we do whakawhanaugatanga."
Dana acknowledges the screening process has its awkward moments, but the time it takes to do it is quick.
"It took the nurse less than 10 minutes, and they make sure you feel comfortable."
Dana hopes to encourage women to get their cervical screening test done, saying it could save their lives.
"Aroha mai, aroha atu – show love for yourself by taking charge of your health. Stand proud, wahine maaori, and prioritise your cervical screening for a healthier future."