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Naveena Nekka

Q1) Tell us a little about your self!

I am a breast cancer thriver (since 2015), a carer of elderly parents, an aunt of two gorgeous nieces and a fur parent of a six year old Spoodle. Following my diagnosis, I decided to re-evaluate my life and focus on matters that are important to me. I describe it as changing from being career ambitious to being life ambitious and wanting to utilise my varied skills and knowledge in assisting others to achieve better health outcomes. 

I am an avid traveller, mad sports spectator (cricket, AFL, tennis) and love dogs of all shapes and sizes. I also LOVE fashion (especially clothing, shoes and jewellery) and in particular, enjoy supporting small business owners as they create wonderful, unique designs and products. 

Q2) Tell us about what you do, and why you do it!

 In my previous (corporate) life, I was a senior professional with extensive strategy, research, M&A and management skills across a range of industries – dairy, trustee, funds management and private health insurance. 

After my cancer diagnosis and treatment, I decided to focus on bringing the patients’ voice to the attention of key senior stakeholders in the health system and medical researchers. I want to make the ‘road’ easier for those who follow - both through improved products and services as well as great research outcomes related to prevention, early detection and treatment of cancer (especially breast cancer). In order to achieve this ambitious aim, I have been and continue to be involved in a number of initiatives and organisations. 

I drove the creation of a breast cancer concierge service with my health insurance employer and now their members who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer (between 3,000 – 4,000 Australians per year) receive support as they navigate the private health system. 

I am a member of the Community Advisory Committee with Eastern Health, a member of the Emergency Care Clinical Network Insight Committee at Safer Care Victoria, a member of the Patient Advisory Board at Health Equals Freedom (a cancer related health system navigator), a buddy volunteer with the Breast Cancer research lab at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and a consumer representative with the Breast Cancer Network Australia. 

I also speak to current breast cancer patients as a telephone peer support volunteer for the Cancer Council Victoria. Current patients often want to speak to someone who has been through it before as it gives them comfort that people have gotten through this before and also only these past patients know how the treatment makes you feel. 

Q3) What makes you feel courageous?

There are often days when I don’t wake up feeling courageous but then I think of what could be achieved and the saying ‘If not you, then who? If not now, then when?’ and that gets me going. I also think of my nieces’ future and wanting to make things better for them. 

Q4) What is one thing you wish you could tell you 16-year old self?

 So much stuff to tell my 16 year old self but these would be the main points - 

- Don’t sweat the small stuff;

- Enjoy life especially youth;

- there is nothing wrong with marching to your own beat; and

- it is ok to change your mind as you don’t have all the answers (even though you think you do!).

Q5) What is one piece of advice you can give a fellow lady who might be lacking courage?

This is what I tell my girl friends. Imagine you are one of your friends who has come to you for advice - what would you say to them to overcome their insecurity or doubts? The number of women who put themselves down or discount their ideas or are crippled by self doubt is astounding. I ask them to listen to their inner monologue as something one of their friends might say about themselves. I then ask them if they would put up with their friend’s self doubt or if they would tell their friend to ‘stop it!’ (nicely, of course). 

The other one is the same mantra I use on myself - ‘If not you, then who? If not now, then when?’

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  • Nav, you are courageous & inspiring…more power to you 👍🤗

    Richa

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