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Artwork about patient's cancer journey unveiled

Special artwork donated to cancer services at RPA.

SydneyConnect Video: Rosemarie Slater artwork unveiled

Rosemarie Slater was a strong woman.

"Her doctor gave her three to six months to live. She lasted seven. She was a fighter," said Gail Daylight, recounting her memories of her sister.

Rosemarie, a proud Kamilaroi woman, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010. She was treated at RPA, but succumbed to the disease in 2011.

Now, an Aboriginal artwork that depicts her cancer journey has been officially unveiled during a special ceremony at RPA Hospital in Sydney Local Health District.

"It represents her experience with the health care system and the support she received from her family during her journey. It's about connection. She's gone, but she's still around us all," Gail said.

The District has one of the biggest urban Aboriginal populations in NSW.

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in Aboriginal people.

The NSW Cancer Institute's report, 2020 Reporting for Better Cancer Outcomes — Aboriginal people in NSW, found, that after standardising for age, Aboriginal people are diagnosed with lung cancer at over three times the rate of the overall NSW population.

Data shows the rate of mortality from lung cancer is 3.3 times higher.

The District's Aboriginal Cancer Services Working Group is collaborating with local Aboriginal communities, the Central and Eastern Primary Health Network, BreastScreen NSW, the District's Public Health Unit, and the Aboriginal Medical Service Redfern to develop strategies to improve cancer outcomes.

"Through culturally appropriate care, integrated with the services and knowledge our Aboriginal Health partners provide, we're striving to address the gap in cancer outcomes," Sarah O'Shannassy, the District's Acting Clinical Manager for Cancer Services said.

It's hoped that displaying Rosemarie's painting will make Cancer Services a more welcoming place for Aboriginal people.

"Our aim is to create a comfortable culturally-safe space for our patients while they're receiving treatment. Displaying Rosemarie's painting shows that her journey — and that of all our Aboriginal patients — is important to us," Ms O'Shannassy said.

It's a sentiment echoed by Rosemarie's family.

"Aboriginal patients will know that the District is supportive of them and will care for them throughout their diagnosis and treatment," Gail said.

The painting is to be hung in the Infusion Centre at Gloucester House at RPA.