Frocktober 2014: What I learned from Frocktober 2013

Last year, I raised just over $2,700 for the OCRF. This year I was full of vigour that I would get to $3,000 easily. At the end of day 1 last year I had over $300, it’s day 2 – around lunchtime and I haven’t yet achieved $100.

For those not familiar with Frocktober, you wear a dress a day and collect donations to raise money for an Ovarian Cancer early detection test – like a Pap smear is for HPV and Cervical Cancer.

What am I learning from this?

  1. Fundraising regularly, even semi-regularly is really tough. So far, people have “liked” my pictures on Facebook and Instagram, but very few have followed through thus far, with a donation. That’s the hardest part – people don’t often follow through. This is not just true of fundraising, but a broad effect of social media use in my opinion. Social media presents us, as consumers with so much visual stimuli, we react more to the visual, and less to the physical (cause, person etc.) world than we used to. Our ability to be engaged is reduced.
  2. Saturation is having an impact. We are saturated with ‘bleeding heart’ stories, and donation drives constantly, and some causes are definitely stronger than others – ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Pink Ribbon for Breast Cancer and Telethon to name a few. Not even all Breast Cancer causes are the same – Breast Cancer Care WA who run ‘Purple Bra Day’ are not connected to the Pink Ribbon Campaigns. I make a monthly donation to UNICEF, I always give to the Salvos and St Vinnies tin shakers in the City, any Movember efforts that catch my fancy, and I usually make a donation to the OCRF via my Frocktober campaign.Cancers now have ‘colours’ or even colour schemes in order to distinguish themselves – Which just emphasises point 1, really.cancercolours
  3. I realised my own risk of Ovarian Cancer today. It’s slightly above average given my paternal Grandmother had it before she was 50 years old – which increases the likelihood it is hereditary. But just the one member of my family has had it (to my knowledge), which reduces any more serious risk. I am scared yes, that I could develop it.

    The symptoms, for females, are very general:

    •Abdominal or pelvic pain.
    •Increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating.
    •Needing to urinate often or urgently.
    •Feeling full after eating a small amount.
    •Changes in your bowel habits.
    •Unexplained weight gain or weight loss.
    •Bleeding in-between periods or after menopause.
    •Back pain.
    •Indigestion or nausea.
    •Excessive fatigue.
    •Pain during intercourse.

    Most women will experience these symptoms in their life (I have), but it will most likely not be Ovarian Cancer. Unless there is no other cause for these symptoms, then a GP will have to consider Ovarian Cancer as a possibility. This is why an early detection test is so important. Like the Ovarian Cancer Australia webpage says: “Be Alert – but don’t make yourself sick with worry!”

    Remember: Pap Smears are NOT a test for Ovarian Cancer.

  4. Knowledge is power. While I am scared, I would probably be scared of getting eaten by a shark if I went swimming in the ocean right now. I am happy I know these ‘scary’ things now – so I can be aware if anything in my body does change. I also have options, if I wanted to thoroughly explore my genetic risk (this is a serious blessing); I can have my blood tested for the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes (Remember Angelina Jolie had her double mastectomy because her Mother had Breast and (eventually died of) Ovarian Cancer?). It was a mutation or abnormality in these genes that allowed scientists to determine her risk of contracting either disease. This genetic test in Australia costs $3,000 – and can only be reimbursed if a family history of either Breast or Ovarian Cancer is identified (I.e. more than 1 member of your family). Realising my own risk has made Frocktober x10,000 times more important to me now. So no, I’m not another selfie-obsessed Gen – Y, I am doing this for myself, my family and all the future women who should live and not fall victim to Ovarian Cancer.Even if I don’t reach my goal of $3,000 – (would love it if I did) I will still be so proud to fundraise. Frocktober is so much fun, I could not possibly give up – If people donate, they donate! and I am going to keep on trying.
    I have inspired 3 of my lady friends on Facebook to don their dresses for Frocktober this year after they witnessed my campaign last year; they have come to me with questions about what I did, and just questions about Frocktober in general. How fantastic is that by itself – 4 friends turning our love of dresses (and materialism) and using our powers for a good cause.Awareness of the symptoms has had such an impact on me, just today – and if I don’t get to $3,000, I will have at least spread awareness.

    FROCK ON!

    A x

If you would like to make a donation: https://frocktober.everydayhero.com/au/anna-burchfield

Follow my journey on here, Instagram (@thetangibleblog) and Twitter (@thetangibleblog).

Got a frock? Or got a question? Post below or email me: anna_burchy@hotmail.com

Ps I now have $178.50 as I finish this article ( at 2pm, without it being published!) thanks to an anonymous donor of $105! Hooray!

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