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  • Writer's pictureCaroline Louise

Tackling The Harmful Cancer Stigmas Within The BAMER Community

A life-threatening prejudice towards cancer found among the BAME community has inspired a Therapy Radiographer at the Liverpool Rutherford Cancer Centre to set up her own cancer care charity.

Mary Oladele, 27, set up Cancer Education UK in 2016 to offer support to people in the BAME community diagnosed with cancer. “As a woman of colour, I have seen cancer being treated as if it were a death sentence,” Mary explained. “People would avoid getting diagnosed, they would avoid treatment and friends and family would isolate them because they thought it was contagious. I have seen a huge gap in people’s knowledge and I want to change that.”

“I do not want people from BAMER communities and lower socio-economic backgrounds to die of cancer out of ignorance, lack of awareness or not being able to seek the right help or ask the right questions," Oladele said. "Therefore I have made it my mission to help our community through one of the most difficult journeys one can ever embark on."

The charity supports cancer patients through their helpline and with services such as picking up shopping, providing care packages, arranging transport to and from appointments, providing patients with someone to attend appointments. Also, they offer free reflexology, yoga or physiotherapy sessions. “It’s amazing how many people want to get involved - people always want to help, they just need to know how”, Oladele said.

Mary Oladele graduated from London South Bank university in 2016 with a 2:1 in Therapeutic Radiography and Oncology. She has been a Senior Therapy Radiographer with Rutherford Cancer Centres for six years and is now studying for a Masters in Public Health.

Oladele believes charities such as hers are important because they educate not only patients but the NHS and the government. “If people have different cultures or religions to you then you just don’t realise what kind of support they need and BAME communities have a big cultural and religious mindset,” Oladele explained. “When they’re making healthcare decisions it needs to be an inclusive and diverse discussion.”

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