Only 46% of women in Australia survive ovarian cancer. As if that statistic wasn't shocking enough, another gob-smacking fact is that there is still no early detection test available for this deadly disease. This alone was enough to prompt besties and business partners, Steph Claire Smith and Laura Henshaw, to get involved as ambassadors for Ovarian Cancer Australia (OCA). We caught up with them to discuss what drove them to lend their support and why this particular cause is so close to their hearts.
What does being an ambassador for OCA mean to you?
Laura: It is really special and something we hold very close to our hearts. Awareness about ovarian cancer and the need for funding to help develop an early detection test is so important and we both feel really passionate about sharing this message with everyone we can.
Steph: When Laura and I first partnered with OCA we learnt a lot about the devastating facts and statistics around ovarian cancer and felt instantly responsible to share their message with our audiences. It means a lot to the both of us, the more people we can reach and educate hopefully will result in more much needed support for OCA.
With such a huge following on social media, what’s the main message about ovarian cancer that you’d like to share?
Laura: That there is no early detection test, and without one how devastating the prognosis is for those who are sadly diagnosed in the late stages. More funding is required to develop the test and if you are able I urge you to make a donation, whether small or large, every cent helps.
Steph: One of the scariest facts that hit me pretty hard was that there is no early detection test. Whilst scans and tests can show abnormalities they unfortunately cannot provide a diagnosis and the only way they can currently confirm a diagnosis is by taking a biopsy during surgery. The hope is to one day develop an early detection test, donations are going to help them get there.
What didn’t you know about ovarian cancer before you became involved?
Laura: The statistics about ovarian cancer really hit hard. It is devastating that the symptoms (bloating and fatigue) are so common for so many women. 70% of women are diagnosed in the late stages of ovarian cancer and only 25% of those diagnosed in the late stage will survive beyond 5 years. It is really scary.
Steph: I mistakenly believed that pap smears could diagnose ovarian cancer, and apparently I wasn't the only one! Over 50% of the community think the same. So once I found out how incorrect I was I wanted to make sure others were educated with the facts as well.
What do you hope people will take away from campaigns such as these?
Laura: I hope it will help raise more awareness and to help raise more money to help develop the early detection test that we need so badly.
Steph: I hope it opens people's eyes. The stats and facts should scare anyone, not just those who have been directly affected by the cancer through a friend or family member. The best way people can support is by donating, any amount counts.
What changes do you hope to see in the future with regards to how women talk about their ovaries?
Laura: I hope it becomes more common to chat about our ovaries. It is something we very rarely talk about and as awareness is so key for ovarian cancer, starting these conversations in our friendship groups is so important .
Steph: I hope the embarrassment women may feel about openly talking about their ovaries goes away. At the end of the day it’s just another part of our bodies, and if we can talk more comfortably about them then hopefully the conversations around ovarian cancer can grow too.
How you can help
Help us save lives by buying a pair of Bonds Overies women's or men's undies and we'll donate 100% of the profits to Ovarian Cancer Australia. Alternatively, you can donate directly to OCA via their website.