Health Professional Radio
Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio with Wayne Bucklar. Today my guest is Kath Mazzella OAM and Kath is a director of Mazzella Consultancy and has an interesting story to tell. Kath welcome to Health Professional Radio.
Kath Mazzella: Yeah, thank you very much Wayne.
W: Now Kath, I understand you’re a gynecological cancer survivor and you’ve been working now with education in that area.
K: Well necessarily education, I call it awareness. Because I don’t have any degrees or any qualification in that area, just a simple life experience, well not quite simple.
W: (laugh) So tell us the story.
K: Okay, well 20 years ago I had a gynecological cancer and as an effect I had my clitoris, vulva and lymph glands removed. And it was just so traumatic that sort of thing, I knew nothing about down there. And I basically get my information with my doctor and gynecologist, because a busy working mother I didn’t have time to learn about these things.
W: And I guess that’s a reasonably common experience.
K: Well it is. Because women are just so busy, twice as busy in this day and age, they’ve got to be working and taking care of the family and there is no time to learn about the your health or that area of the body. We can go to the internet and we learn from the internet but I would still like to learn a lot of the gynecological health issues starting either from age 14. And a lot of people don’t relate to 14 year olds and gynecological health. But a lot of complications tend to happen when a girl first has her period and yet we don’t seem to talk about those things in our society.
W: No, in fact periods are one of the things that kind of get utilized and mentioned with ads for menstrual products on television only in terms of joyous and happy occasions.
K: Well yes, it’s very interesting how that we can expect ads from television and we use these… But it’s like we don’t talk about it in the community environment, and yet I’ve noticed a million women have got polycystic ovaries and a million got endometriosis, plus all the other gynecological conditions. But a lot of those conditions can start when girls are 14. But does the parents know about how to support these young girls? And I just think it’s time that we have to go back to square one and just sort of build on it from there, because I just think it’s totally amazing from what I’ve experienced and how women’s organizations seem rather the last to even address some of these issues, some of the very things that they stand for and yet the stigma and the connection between the sexual relationships, but the mental impact of these things – it’s just unbelievable that we still live in a society as we do today, especially when we’re such a sexually promiscuous society, and yet to talk about the effect of that. I actually have an undies campaign for my International Gynecological Awareness Day. But a lot of people are still put off for those sort of things that you would connect undies with gynecology… What’s the problem in that? We have bras for breast cancer and breast cancer’s done an amazing job with their marketing and with the bras and acceptance. And I guess in society the breast is totally a different concept than gynecology, but as a woman I feel quite offended that it is still like that in this day and age. Gynecology has this … factor and people will suddenly call it reproductive health in this society might accept it more because after that having babies but gynecology is definitely not about having babies.
W: Yes. And I heard you mentioned an International Awareness Day, is that one of your initiatives?
K: Well it is one of mine. Because I have to find a way and I have followed on what the breast cancer women have done and they have day and they all come together. And asked “Well what can I do to gynecology?” So I’m pleased to say Kind Edward Memorial Hospital for Women in Perth have celebrated the Gynecological Day the last 3 years and they have it in-house staff competition who can design the best pair of undies. And the Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi, who supports my work to the hills, she came and judged the best pair of undies so we’ve already paved the way to show on how it can be done, and it’s not rude, it’s not offensive and it’s just the fun way. But you see I want to get this out into the community with the women on the ground level not just in hospitals. But just to get it out there to break the barriers and stigma and showed that there is life behind gynecology.
W: Yes. And you know 95% of our audience in fact are clinicians working in hospitals and in aged care facilities. Is there a way that they can help to get the word out of them straight? Is there a message for them to take a way from you having heard you today?
K: Well I have seen a gynecologist and she does a lot of colposcopy here, she celebrated the “Gynae Day” this year and she’s had 50 pairs of my undies there, and she got the doctors and the patients to all come in together and they were designing their own cardboard undies with the lace and ribbons and things like that. But she also have some extras and she gives them out to some of the patients which is like “Yeah take this time.” And so by doing this is I’ll find it a bit of challenge for doctors when a woman goes with a gynecological problem, because the doctor then has to teach the woman about gynecology in which is which. Which is the doubled pressure on a doctor to be able to do it, to educate and take care at the same time. And to me if a woman will then be empowered with the knowledge and confident with what she’s talking about, well then it makes it for a greater world for the medical professional and for the women themselves. So there’s a lot of work to be done, but it really isn’t hard work to get this out there, but it’s still a challenge to change the mindset of society about what belong that below the belt. What is this stigma about and where does that come from? And I discovered the word “pudendum” in the dictionary, and the latest version of that word is female genitalia, one that we ought to be ashamed, the shameful part of a woman. So I guess were talking about the “vulva” there, for most women thinking the vulva is the vagina. And to me completely has been told medically that they’re completely different and I know they’re completely different parts of our body even though it’s still classed as the genitalia, but I just wish that we as women can use the correct terminology and say it for what it is because I don’t think women understand we do have this shame, a lot of women think “Oh I don’t have the problem with it.” But you know I just think there’s a lot of issues that need to come out to have the greater acceptance in the community.
W: Well let’s hope that as a result of chatting with us Kath, we’ll get that message out a little bit. Now if people want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to do that?
K: They can go to through kathmazzella.com it’s K A T H M A double Z E double L A dot com.
W: And I’m always getting into trouble for not letting people know that I’m going to give a website. So fair warning pencils ready, that was kathmazzella.com K A T H M A Z Z E double L A dot com. And you can get hold of my guest Kath Mazzella there. Kath it’s been a pleasure having you on the air with us this morning. Thank you very much.
K: No, it’s my pleasure. Thanks for the opportunity.
W: If you’ve just missed my chat with Kath Mazzella, then the good news is we have a transcript on our website. And we also have an audio archive on YouTube and SoundCloud and links to both of those are on our website as well at www.hpr.fm. My name is Wayne Bucklar and you’re listening to Health Professional Radio.