New Arabic cartoon featuring Akmal Saleh targets tricky subject

Friday 25 November, 2016

Egyptian-Australian comedian Akmal Saleh has written and voiced a new cartoon that aims to break down the stigmas around cancer screening using comedy.

The cartoon features Saleh admitting he does not like check-ups, whether they are for his car or his body, but he learns that people who screen for bowel, breast and cervical cancer can live longer.

“I’ve got a lot in common with my car, we’re both getting on in years, we make strange sounds that we never used to make - there’s a leak somewhere…and occasionally unexpectedly I’ll backfire, frightening passers-by,” Mr Saleh says in the cartoon.

The idea for the cartoon came from a group of Arabic-speaking community members from around the Hume area in Melbourne who are aiming to improve the screening rates for breast, bowel and cervical cancers in their community. Community Development Worker from the Arabic Welfare Inc, Simar Amad, is a breast cancer survivor and is working with Cancer Council Victoria on the project.

“There are many barriers to discussing cancer screening in the Arabic community, as cancer is very much connected to the idea of death in our culture, and illness is linked to fate. Traditionally we have been afraid to use the word ‘cancer’, so instead we used to describe it as ‘nasty disease’, which made it hard to talk about,” said Ms Amad.

People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds diagnosed with cancer have poorer outcomes and poorer quality of life compared to others.

“If you’re aged 50 to 74, speak to your doctor or nurse about cancer screening. Trust me, it could save your life,” Ms Amad said.

About the Arabic Cancer Screening Project: The Arabic Cancer Screening Project, funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and implemented by Arabic Welfare Services, in partnership with Cancer Council Victoria, BreastScreen Victoria, PapScreen Victoria and the Victorian Cervical Cytology Registry.