A MORLEY gynaecological health advocate is vying for her 11th award in 23 years of reducing stigma around women’s health at the Australian of the Year Awards in Canberra.
Kath Mazzella OAM (66), who won the WA Senior Australian of the Year in November, survived radical gynaecological cancer after she was diagnosed at 39.
Since being diagnosed, Ms Mazzella established a Gynaecological Awareness Information Network, formed the International Gynaecological Awareness Day on her birthday on September 10 and released a book called Not So Secret Women’s Business.
She also delivers workshops to help women and men by raising awareness about gynaecological issues including polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, fibroids, menopause, sexually transmitted infections and hysterectomies.
Ms Mazzella planned to spread her message to fellow Australian of the Year nominees at the ceremony on January 25.
“I was in the dark about my own body, my knowledge and what conditions there are around gynaecological health… it really sparked me to think why is this happening,” she said.
“My main message is to firstly break down barriers and stigmas.
“The next one is to gain your own knowledge and be in control of your own body and your own life because doctors are not expected to know everything so we need to embrace the knowledge.”
Ms Mazzella said she needed the “force of the community” to make a difference.
“I don’t have a certificate and I don’t have a degree (but) I have life experience and I have a lot to share,” she said.
“We need to change hundreds of years of social programming of women that good girls don’t talk about these things.”
She said the only way stigma could be broken was through displaying visual and humorous quilts and underwear in the community.
In 2018, Ms Mazzella hoped to get more people to join King Edward Memorial Hospital, Harley Davidson Motorcycles and community groups in supporting her campaign.
Ms Mazzella and her husband will be flying to Canberra on January 23.
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