Kath Mazzella Gynaecological Awareness Information Network Interview
International GYNae Awareness Day is all about open communication and supporting one another.
One great reason to get involved in International GYNae Awareness Day is that about nine million women in Australia will be challenged by a Gynae related issue in their lifetime. If you are already one of these women, you will know the value of gaining support from others.
Or are you one of those men or women who are already or will in the future be supporting their mother, sister, daughter or aunt who face the challenge of a Gynae related issue?
When one woman suffers, all those who surround her suffer as well. But as we share our stories, learn about how we can be more supportive, everything changes.
Register your event for the week of September 10th on the www.GynaeDay.com
Interview with Kath Mazzella
Kath Mazzella OAM is the Founder of GAIN Inc. (2000)
Gynaecological Awareness Information Network Perth W Australia.Question:
What inspired you to start Gynaecological Awareness Information Network (GAIN)?Kath Mazzella
: I had my clitoris, vulva and lymph glands removed due to cancer.
I couldn't believe the secrecy involved in talking about anything gynecology, this is not about having babies and reproductive health; it's about the 600,000 people with endometrioses, the 18% with polycystic ovaries, the hysterectomies and the thyroids - the list just goes on and on.
We can all talk about the breasts, very comfortably but to talk about anything "below the belt" people won't go there and yet women suffer amazingly. Question:
What has helped build your confidence after your gynecological experience?Kath Mazzella
: Starting GAIN helped build my confidence, because I absolutely could not have spoken about any of these things, myself, before this happened to me. When I was treated, 17 years ago, the way the woman treated me when I went to women's organisations was that I had the 'eww factor'. There is a fear associated with gynecological experiences and I am saying there is another way to look at this, we need to take away that 'eww factor'.
I was empowered within myself when I accepted psychologically that the whole gynecological aspect is a wonderful and powerful part of the body. We are disempowered by not being able to talk about gynecological issues.Question:
How does it feel to know you have inspired woman, worldwide, from your experiences?Kath Mazzella
: I sit here in awe; often I look back at my scrapbook and I think 'did I really do that?' It is wonderful to reflect on my progress but also exciting to see who has supported me, after all my hard work; The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has given me a letter and the President of the Australian and New Zealand Woman's Hospital has endorsed the GYN awareness Day.
I can't sleep sometimes because I think "it's coming together" there is also a lot of pressure to make sure this is done correctly and you don't upset people by being too rude. There is still a stigma that needs to be broken down, I will have to keep chipping away.Question:
What does Gynaecological Awareness Information Network do?Kath Mazzella
: Most people think that young girls don't have gynaecological issues but a lot of gynaecological conditions start when a girl gets her period - then most wait until they're 25 to do anything about it and in the meantime the young girl has been having these issues for many, many years and the parents don't know a lot about it and a GP doesn't know a lot about gynaecological health either.
Endometrioses can cause great pain and most people don't understand and think females are 'going on about whatever'. We need to understand what goes on 'below the belt' so if we don't have a problem we don't say to others, who do, "that's not my problem". As females we need to have passion for our sisters and say "I have learnt about endometrioses, I don't have it, but I understand that it is quite a complicated, sensitive issue that you're going through".
GAIN is about promoting awareness and support. GAIN doesn't have a support group, due to lack of resources, but what we do, if you contact GAIN and you have endometrioses we will forward you on to an endometrioses support group or specialist. We also will sit down and explain that we know other woman who have endometriosis and connect woman up with other woman, experiencing the same issues.
I have a 20 year bond with other woman who I have found, who have had their clitoris, vulva and lymph glands removed also, there is not many of us but when we first met up as woman we would share with each other our stories and have compassion for one another. Question:
Why do you think there is such a stigma associated with gynaecological issues?Kath Mazzella
: There is a word in the dictionary 'pudeneum' and the Latin version of this word means "female genital: one who should and ort to be ashamed, the shameful part of a woman". The vagina is the internal and the vulva is the outside - this is where all life begins and how precious is that? Question:
What is your vision for International GYN Awareness Day?Kath Mazzella
: My vision is to bring doctors and woman together and have everybody celebrating International GYN Awareness Day like they do for breast cancer. It is just as sad to have your genitals removed as it is to have your breasts removed but woman are not able to stand up and talk about it. Not sharing this knowledge is disempowering to the beautiful body God gave women. How come we can talk about the breasts but not about 'below the belt'?
My vision is for Gynae health to be accepted as a normal subject to be discussed in the community - the same a breast/prostate cancers, diabetes - to take away the stigmas and barriers that seem to still be out there in the community with many women suffering in silence - not to mention the ripple effect on men and families
The GYN awareness day is not just about cancers but all things Gynae i.e. 1 million Australian women have endometriosis, 1 million Polycistic. Ovaries, Fibroids, STIs, 1 in 6 infertility issues, menopause, hysterectomies, periods, Gyn cancers the list is long - BUT where are the voices of these women?Question:
Why it important for Australians to get involved in International GYN Awareness Day? Kath Mazzella
: To help save lives and sometimes lifetime complications - simply by a better less complicated way of dissemination GYN information.Question:
How can Australians get involved in International GYN Awareness Day?Kath Mazzella
: There are events Australia wide, I am very proud to hear of woman Australia wide promoting the International GYN Awareness Day. I am happy to have The Jean Hailes Foundation for Women's Health using our GAIN logo to promote the awareness day.
In October I will be presenting for International GYN Awareness Day to the aborigine woman and The Woman's Health Centre too.
for events that are happening in your area.
Interview by Brooke Hunter