For Victoria-Rose Paris, women’s health is an issue worth talking about, and she’s harnessing her inner (and outer) style queen for a good cause by participating in Frocktober this month.
Victoria-Rose waited six years for a diagnosis of endometriosis after years of debilitating symptoms and is passionate about women’s health and advocating for the health system to take women’s concerns seriously.
“I’d have one doctor and they’d be like, ‘oh, yeah, something’s really wrong’. And then they change shifts, and the next one would just send me home [from hospital],” she said.
“It just made me really dissatisfied and angry with the health system, that something can actually be really wrong, and I had so many people telling me I was a hypochondriac and that I was overreacting. And that made me really mentally unwell, because it makes you doubt yourself.”
Victoria-Rose is participating in Frocktober, an annual fundraiser for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF) that aims to shine a light on ovarian cancer and raise awareness for the Foundation’s research work.
Around 1,800 Australian women are diagnosed with the disease every year, while only 29% of women diagnosed at a late stage will survive for more than five years.
Symptoms can often be mistaken for other women’s health issues and there is no early detection test – a pap smear does not detect the disease – which means the majority of cases of ovarian cancer are detected at an advanced stage.
Victoria-Rose said there’s certainly a lack of awareness about ovarian cancer out there, coupled with the dismissal of women’s symptoms.
I’d hate for people to think there’s something wrong … and just not be taken seriously,” Victoria-Rose said. “I was extremely pushy, and it still took me six years to be diagnosed [with endometriosis].”
Frocktober sees participants ‘frock up’ for days, weeks, or the whole month during October, and Victoria-Rose has taken to the challenge like a duck to water, showcasing her daily frocks, feminine style and the power of fashion.
“Most of the time clothes make people feel really good about themselves and that can change their mood and that’s a powerful tool.”
She’s also planning a fundraiser for Saturday 17 October 2pm in Weston Park, where Canberrans are invited to frock up together and raise some money and awareness for the cause.