Aunty Pam Pedersen AOM is a Yorta Yorta woman and a Ambassador for BCNA (Breast Cancer Network Australia), a not-for-profit organisation that supports Australians affected by breast cancer. BCNA’s First Nations advisory group promotes s a culturally sensitive approach to breast cancer, thus increasing the likelihood that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women will undertake and continue the treatment. With it being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, my special guest today is Aunty Pam.
Aunty Pam Pedersen is on the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll. She has been involved with a long list of social justice and community organisations, including the Aborigines Advancement League and the Victorian Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Prevention Service. She has been working in the Koori Court since 2004 and really makes great efforts to support young people throughout our communities to value their community and a law-abiding lifestyle. Aunty Pam took an unexpected career turn later in life and has represented Victoria and Australia at the World Masters Games in swimming, running, cycling and sailing.
The daughter of Pastor Sir Doug Nicholls and Lady Nicholls and has continued her father’s legacy of community service, placing the happiness and health of others before her own. As an Elder she sits sitting on the various Koorie Courts in Melbourne, a position she has held since 2005. At the age of 50 Aunty Pam decided she was putting on a little too much weight and took up running. One of the first events she tried out her newly purchased running shoes at was the very first Mother’s Day Classic. Some 20 years later she is yet to miss a start line or fail to reach the finish line. In 2016 the event she had grown to love took on far greater significance when just before Mother’s Day she herself was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I’m a very pragmatic person, so once I was diagnosed it became about what steps I had to follow to get well,” the 76-year-old said. Arriving on that chilly Melbourne morning Aunty Pam made her way to the start line, as she crested the hill in the Botanic Gardens, she took in the scene below. Children running for their mother’s or grandmothers, signs showing those battling breast cancer that they were loved and supported, tributes to people lost far too soon. It was at that moment Aunty Pam’s own battle hit her.
“That was the only time during the entire process I got emotional. Just seeing all those people there supporting and remembering people made me feel loved. It made me feel like I was not battling alone. It was a wonderful feeling,” she said. She is simply a whirlwind of activity and inspirational ideas, she doesn’t look at the world and think what can I do to help, she looks at and thinks what am I doing today and what will I do tomorrow.
“Twenty years ago, breast cancer was not often talked about publicly. It was discussed in whispers, and many women spoke of a feeling of shame at diagnosis. Women felt like a number, not an individual, and were subjected to radical surgery. They were given little information and even less support. They held little hope for a future. Aunty Pam Pedersen Photo. Shepparton News