Donated bras to raise breast cancer awareness in Cooks
Hundreds of second-hand bras are being distributed to women in the Cook Islands to promote breast cancer awareness.
Hundreds of second-hand bras are being distributed to women in the Cook Islands to promote breast cancer awareness. The bras are part of an annual donation from a gym in the North Island town of Kerikeri to women in the Pacific Islands. The Cook Islands Breast Cancer Foundation's president, Jaewynn McKay says women in the northern islands have limited options when it comes to bra shopping and mammogram screenings are only offered on Rarotonga. She told Daniela Maoate-Cox te Maeva Nui celebration for the Cook Islands 50th anniversary of self governance is the perfect opportunity to reach more women.
JAEWYNN MCKAY: It's not so much a demand, it's more an ability to give to some women who may not have access to bras and particularly if they're relatively new ones, and in some instances they are brand new and of a design which may not be as accessible here as it is in New Zealand, particularly to the women in the northern group which is where these bras are destined to go. We're in the middle of our celebrations of 50 years of self governance, so the women and men have come down from the northern group en masse and they're staying in the various hostels around our national auditorium and so the National Council of Women has taken it upon itself to distribute them to those women who are more in need of bras than say, people who live in Rarotonga and have the ability to go and buy them when they need them.
DANIELA MAOATE-COX: So there is a fair bit of need?
JM: I would say so, because there aren't any bra shops on the outer islands, outside of perhaps Aitutaki and Rarotonga, there wouldn't be too many bra shops or places that you can go and buy bras.
DMC: Do people come to you saying that they need bras or was this sparked because people gathered them together and started donating them and then people became aware?
JM: It's more the latter, the reason we got to have these bras in the first place is Sonya Marsh owns a gym in Kerikeri called Curves. Every October her gym members get together and they bring in bras during Pink October, which is the universal breast cancer month and this year Sonya herself brought them over and the reason that we've donated them or handed them over at this time is because there are so many people on the island at the moment who aren't normally here and also just to gain more awareness for breast cancer, we have an annual breast cancer screening programme which is every July, the last two weeks of every July, and the women are here from Australia at the moment conducting that breast screening. Next week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, those three days are dedicated to women from the outer islands to have their mammograms and we've been working with local suppliers and co-ordinating transport so we can just make it easier for women to get up there. So we've been working in with Raro Tours and organised a bus which will drive around the hostels about four or five times a day and take women up to the hospital and return them back after they've had their screening.
DMC: So you'll be very busy next week, how many bras have been donated?
JM: In total, just over 370, maybe 375.
DMC: And how are they received? What are people like when they get them?
JM: I think they like looking through them and seeing which ones they like, some of them are quite sexy ones, some are sporty ones, some are sports bras, others might be strapless which suits those that might be dancing, if you've got strapless costumes, it's a bit like being in a lolly shop or a toy shop if you're a kid actually.
DMC: Next week you will be busy with so many people on Rarotonga for te Maeva Nui, promoting awareness of being tested for breast cancer, how big is this problem in the Cook Islands?
JM: It's hard to know exactly what the statistics are because some women actually choose to be screened in New Zealand, some might refer themselves if they're not well and we don't have the stats of the women that come to New Zealand but what we're trying to promote here is not only making sure you have your mammogram, over here you only need to be 40 to go and have one, but it's more around wellness too, women aren't necessarily always good at taking care of themselves, they're very good at taking care of others, but not necessarily themselves so the more that we can do to promote them looking after themselves and their longevity so they can look after their mokopuna, the better.
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