We would like to introduce Kimika Lee (fourth from left), a Yawuru woman from Broome, currently working as an Aboriginal Health Worker in the Kimberley Palliative Care Service.
Kimika attended our five day Cancer Education Course for Aboriginal Health Professionals which was delivered in partnership with the Aboriginal Health Council of WA in Perth earlier this year.
Since completing the course, Kimika has completed all the assessments and achieved an accreditation for the unit. We had a yarn with Kimika about her role and her experience during the course.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself - where did you grow up and who is your mob?
Hi, my name is Kimika Lee. I am from Broome and come from the Yawuru clan. I come from a family of four sisters and two brothers. I am a mother of six beautiful kids, three boys and three girls. I am also a grandmother to five granddaughters and one grandson.
What is your current role and what led you to do the work that you currently do?
I currently work as an Aboriginal Health Worker for the Kimberley Palliative Care Service in Broome. I had to develop this unique job as it is the only one here in WA.
One of the palliative care nurses at the time approached me and encouraged me to apply for the role as she believed I was the perfect person for the job. My role involves me regularly liaising with patients, allied health and medical staff in all Kimberley hospital sites and Aboriginal Medical Services and acting as an advocate on behalf of my patients.
What motivated you to attend the Cancer Education Course?
I have a lot of clients who have chronic diseases/cancer and have to travel to Perth for treatment, so it was great for me to have an understanding of what they go through when they travel down for treatment.
What was the highlight of the course for you and how has it benefited you?
Meeting and networking with other Aboriginal Health Workers and Aboriginal Liaison Officers from all over and sharing our experiences from each of our areas.
The tour of the Cancer Centre at Sir Charles Gairdner hospital was also a highlight of the week for me as I now know the journey palliative care patients take when coming down for treatment. During the tour we got to see the radiation masks and chemo set up which gave me a sense of what my clients have to go through every 2-3 weeks.
What advice would you give to others working with Aboriginal patients who have cancer?
My advice to other Aboriginal Health Workers and those working with Aboriginal patients is to always show respect and listen. Ask the patient who the key person is to talk to and go at their pace.
I also strongly encourage Aboriginal Health Professionals to apply for a PEPA placement and come to Broome and spend 2-3 days with our rare little team.
Thanks for your time Kimika, keep up the wonderful work you're doing!
We will be delivering our Cancer Education Course again later this year, if you would like to register your interest for the course please contact Taneisha Hansen, Aboriginal Projects Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (08) 9388 4360.