Lawrence ‘Magik’ Dennis

Cancer information for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander People

Lawrence ‘Magik’ Dennis is a proud Gamilaraay man from Walgett who is passionate about preserving his peoples’ culture and improving their health. He is considered an elder by his local community, relied upon by many living with chronic diseases such as cancer. His hands-on style is best described by Lawrence himself: “One day I went back to where I used to drink and all the mob were just sitting there, about 20 of them. I rock up in the car, pulled out the bag, put the bag on the bonnet and said righto boys and girls we’re going to have a clinic here today, I’m taking all your blood sugar, blood pressure, all that kind of stuff … two of those fellas ended up at the hospital for hypertension and would have otherwise died.” “The less we stress the more our body can focus on fighting the disease inside of it.” Both as a health worker and a strong Gamilaraay man, Lawrence advocates for culturally appropriate cancer care for all Aboriginal people. He says that spending time on country is a huge part of the healing process and that if he were diagnosed with cancer, couldn’t think of a better place to be than with his ancestors around and knowing that his country was with him in the battle he had to face. He is also passionate about spreading the word through his mob that cancer is not a death sentence, and urges his patients never to give up fighting. As a health worker he has seen many people lose their battle with cancer, but tells himself every day that our people are strong people, that we’ve survived ice ages, we’ve survived invasions and we will survive cancer. “Even though we’re a peaceful mob, we’re born fighters and born leaders and the best thing for us to do is not turn our back on the problem, don’t bury ourselves in the sand, and move forward, move on, and fight it. Fight it to the best of your ability and fight it in your own way, fight your own fight.” On the banks of the Barwon River, his peoples’ sacred country, Lawrence talked about his hope for cancer: “The ultimate hope would be to find something that will stop it, but we need more of our people on the ground with our people. I notice in general health that if people see a familiar face, an Aboriginal face coming to greet them, our mob feels a lot more relaxed and being relaxed is a big part of healing. The less we stress the more our body can focus on fighting the disease inside of it.”