Ernest’s story – Gugu mugu do, just do it

Ernest, an Aboriginal man from the Tjapukai tribe, is an advocate of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.


The name’s Ernest Brimm and I’m from the Tjapukai tribe. At the present moment I’m working at the cultural centre. And prior to that my grass roots is Kuranda, where the majority of the Tjapukia people live, out along the community and that, and I’m just proud to be who I am, as a Tjapukai person.

Growing up I was, there was a reservedness with health. And I suppose it, be it through shyness or embarrassment, but as I grew older I’ve learnt that to speak about it, and then someone will open up about their issues, serves like a support.

Yeah I’ve got a mate who I’m very close with and he said yeah he did his bowel screening and that. And there wasn’t an issue with him, he just went out and did it.

To do the screening and such, it sets something like a standard there.

I recommend anyone who get it in the mail, once they open it up, if they can envisage a Nike tick, Just Do It, and like I said in Tjapukai words, gugu mugu do, just do it.

It’s critical to nip it in the bud at the early days.

And once you tell a mate, and then another mate and another mate. Sometimes you’d have a joke about it, there’d be embarrassment, and within Aboriginal people there’d be shameness and that. But then to overcome that to be serious, it brings out the professional side, so you need to tell your mate, if they’re comfortable with it and vice versa, and discussing it with support, it helps you to, I suppose seek help for yourself, personally.

With my dad detected of cancer a few years ago, prior to his passing and that, it was early days, it was a grey area of how to deal with it, what the affect it would have on the family, but until it actually happened and to see Dad go through the ups and downs of bowel cancer.

Knowing your dad, who always picked himself up and that, the effect, or the lasting effect will be that it is forever. It just becomes a chain reaction. To the family, especially with mum and the children. And the children’s children after that.

Yeah If I could just reflect back on my dad’s, you know what the effect of bowel cancer had on him, and just hearing it from mum, because Dad did not speak to me about it, and that, openly. All he said was just ‘go do it’.

You know what I’d really like with Indigenous people, be it men, is to look at themselves in the mirror and look at themselves 5, 10, 20 years down the track, that they’re still there with their families, their children, because of doing the bowel screening and such, you know, they’re still there, enjoying life to the full capacity and that. And just by dealing with it. So I would recommend to Indigenous people, you know, once you get the bowel screening test, just gugu mugu do, just do it

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Ernest explains how he was affected by his father's diagnosis of bowel cancer. He recommends people use the bowel screening kit as soon as it arrives in the mail.

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