Radio host Stacey Morrison has thrown her support behind Labour MP Kiritapu Allan’s cancer battle and urged women to get regular cervical smear check-ups.
The Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan yesterday revealed she had been diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer.
“So now the fight of my life begins,” she said in a Facebook post.
Praise quickly flowed in for Allan from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Opposition leader Judith Collins and former National MP Nikki Kaye, who fought breast cancer when she was a Cabinet minister.
The Hits host Morrison added her support, saying on air how resilient and strong Allan had always been.
Morrison also talked about Talei Morrison, who was someone Allan cited as inspiration for founding the Smear Your Mea campaign aimed at encouraging Māori women, in particular, to test for cervical cancer.
She said Talei was her husband’s cousin and “one of those women, like Kiritapu actually, who seemed so strong, resilient and that she could beat anything”.
However, Talei sadly discovered her cancer too late and died in June 2018.
Morrison told listeners that Talei and Allan’s stories were urgent reminders to other women to get regular cervical cancer checks because doing so could save their lives.
Talei had partly delayed having a cervical smear due to an earlier bad experience.
“If you’ve had a bad experience with a smear like Talei did, it’s hard to go back,” Morrison said.
She said cervical smears were “not super fun – let’s just say that”.
However, they were important and “doable”, Morrison urged.
She said she knew of four women who had gone straight off to get checked up after hearing yesterday’s revelation Allan was now battling cervical cancer.
For her part, Allan also said she had not paid close enough attention to her health.
“To be honest, I’m one of those gals that hates anything to do with ‘down there’. And have taken a ‘see no evil, hear no evil’ type approach to that part of my body,” she said.
Allan said last year, during the election campaign, she noticed she was getting a lot of pain in her back, stomach and legs.
“I put it down to lots of driving, working long hours and the general stress of campaigns etc – so, I got my partner to give me a few mirimiri and forgot about it.
“Earlier this year, I realised I was finding it hard to sit for a lengthy period of time. Always in a bit of pain. I started running to try and move the lower back area a little bit. Nothing seemed to take the pain away.”
She said that in late January, she started menstruating and didn’t stop. She put off going to see a doctor, telling herself “that stuff usually sorts itself out”.
But after four weeks, she said she went for a check-up at the GP, who put her on some medication.
“At about 6 weeks of menstruating with no change since the GP visit, I raised it with my colleague and friend Ayesha Verrall, who is a doctor, asking if the bleeding was a little odd.
“She asked a few more questions and I told her about the pain. She urged me, pleaded with me: ‘Kiri, please, please, please prioritise this and go to the doctor tomorrow.’
“She made some recommendations and the next day I found myself having an ultrasound.”
That ultrasound, she said, found a 3cm growth – she was told it was “probably benign”.
That day hospital tests revealed a 6cm tumour. Allan then immediately returned to the Beehive to front a nationally televised press conference on the latest tsunami warnings on March 5.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she found it “remarkable” that Allan was leading NZ through a Civil Defence emergency while dealing with her diagnosis.
“If only people knew what else she was dealing with.”
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