June 11, 2014

Lung cancer survivor Archie Roach shines a hopeful light

Australian Indigenous singer and songwriter Archie Roach will be bringing a message of hope to delegates at Cancer Australia’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Forum in Brisbane in June.

This forum brought together more than 150 health workers/health professionals from around Australia with a special interest in improving Aboriginal cancer outcomes with a particular focus on the big killers – breast cancer and lung cancer.

Incidence rates of lung cancer are significantly higher for Indigenous Australians than for non-Indigenous Australians (1.9 times). Cancer is the second leading cause of death among Indigenous Australians with lung cancer being the most common cause of cancer death in Indigenous Australians1.

At the forum, Lung Foundation Australia launched a new Indigenous health resource called ‘Archie Roach: Surviving Lung Cancer‘ which includes a DVD of his experiences beating lung cancer.

While Indigenous reporting (especially in relation to health and lung cancer) is often full of stories of conflict and trauma and tragedy, Archie’s story reminds us that no matter what tragedies we face, the human spirit can be triumphant.

Archie’s ability to survive a turbulent upbringing and major life crises – being a member of the stolen generation, suffering the loss of his life partner, surviving life-threating disease – has seen him develop into a powerful voice for Indigenous Australians, a storyteller in the tradition of his ancestors, and a nationally popular and respected artist.

In 2011, he was diagnosed with lung cancer – a disease that kills more Indigenous Australians than any other cancer. Rather than give up, thanks to his early diagnosis, Archie survived and returned to release the hit album, ‘Into the Bloodstream’, in 2012 which was in part inspired by his battle with lung cancer.

Throughout it all, he remains someone who loves life and performing – even more so after his cancer diagnosis.

Archie is now a passionate advocate for raising awareness of health issues in Indigenous communities, inspiring people not through fear and dire warnings, but as a symbol of hope and the value of embracing life.

Click here to watch Archie Roach – Surviving Lung Cancer

[1] ‘Cancer in Australia An overview 2012’, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Canberra Cat. no. CAN 70