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WAR: Without a Ribbon

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by Mila Wood (subscribe)
I work in the Finance department of a media company, and someone who dabbles in writing of any genre.
Published August 31st 2015
Raising awareness to educate and support rare cancer
At some point in our lives, we will suffer from a form of malady. It can be anything from a simple cold to an incurable type of cancer.

We usually find the remedy and relief from the symptoms of common illnesses, but there are those less fortunate that succumb to untreatable disease and lose their lives.

Our body is made up of trillion of cells. When cells are old and damaged, they die, and then our body creates new cells as replacement.

However, this natural process breaks down when a mistake in the cell's genetic blueprint occur. Thus the term cancer is used to describe these abnormalities. Old and damaged cells that should have died continue to survive and form new cells that are not needed.

The extra cells continue to divide and potentially may form growth called tumours.

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death and a major health concern in Australia. One in two Australian men and one in 3 Australian women will be diagnosed with cancer by the time they reach the age of 85.

By saying that, cancer does not discriminate. Irrespective of our age, our gender or our standing in the community, we can be stricken by the disease at any time of our life.

Once diagnosed with cancer we immediately conclude that it will be the cause of our death. It's comforting to know that in the last two decades the survival rate for common cancers has significantly increased by 30%.

There are more than 100 types of cancer, but it is not always fatal. Through early detection, treatment and ongoing research, 60% of people who were diagnosed with the disease can be effectively treated and live a relatively normal life.

There are form of cancer that are so rare that out of 4.5 million Australians who die of cancer, one third approximately 1.4 million are afflicted with the rare type.

According to rare cancers Australia , specific types of cancer which falls into the category of "rare and less common" received only 13% of government funding for its research. Perhaps the lack of understanding on these rare cases is making it difficult to study in the traditional sense.

The fight against any cancer is costly. Microscopes used in the latest cell-based research, for example, cost more than $1 million each, and the annual cost of treating cancer in Australia is more than $2 billion.

So, with the enormous cost involve in fighting the war with cancer, how can we ensure that on-going much-needed research is continued?

Apart from the cost of treatment, we also need to be well- inform on the type of cancer someone has. It may possibly be a person who is dear to us. By having an access to this vital information, we are able to provide the support to those who are battling the disease.

An educated guess is not good enough!

Organization like "Without a Ribbon" (WAR) was established in 2014 for the purpose of supporting and raising awareness of what it's like to be inflicted with an incurable disease.

"WAR" was established by Desiree Fraser who was diagnosed in December 2009 with Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma . She has undergone dozens of operations, radiation and treatments, enduring over 60 visits to various hospitals throughout Australia.

Desiree Fraser (with her hands up)

The experience taught Desiree that there is no guarantee in life.

Most common cancers are treatable, but there are a few types that linger for the rest of the sufferer's life with little or no effective treatment at all.

The "Without a Ribbon" website provides important information, assistance and support for the specific cancer that one is suffering, endeavoring to assist those who have just been diagnosed to feel that he or she is not alone.

Undoubtedly, organizations like "WAR' cannot continue to provide the above service without the help and generosity of the public.

By saying that, they also actively participate in community events to raise funds. I was fortunate enough to attend such event.

This year, the iconic northern beaches Pub2Pub, organised by the Rotary Club of Brookvale, hosted the 2015 charity event which was held on the 23rd of August.

It was a 14.5km race that started at 8AM at Dee Why Surf Club and finished at the Newport Surf Club.

The event was full of festivities at the Newport Beach finishing line. There was live music on stage, international food stalls, raffles, an area where the participants and their family can enjoy a few post drinks and of course the much-awaited awards ceremony.

The atmosphere was exciting and has attracted thousands of participants whose aim is to raise funds from their entry fees to support the noble cause of many local community charities.

You can't help but be amazed by the tireless effort that these dedicated volunteers and the sponsors have put in to ensure that the event is a success.


I had the great delight in meeting Jody Sutherland who is a volunteer with WAR who unselfishly donates a lot of her time to this cause.

Jody's mother Valentyne died from a rare type of cancer. She bravely chosen to focus her energy to be a part of the WAR crew rather than immersed herself in deep sadness on the loss of her Mother.

Notably, Brian Dunphy from Fresh Strata who's finance contribution was generous and well-received.


Although the thunderous sky threatened to put a halt into the event, the rain eventually stopped, and as great warrior's would say; "The show must go on"

"Without a Ribbon" has raised a total amount of $5,384.50 (total is constantly updated).

WAR is thankful for any public donations received, but in order to continue on with their noble cause, further funds are needed.

November 2015 will be a significant event for "WAR"

Desiree Fraser and 2 volunteers will be travelling to Tasmania to attend the annual Oncologist Conference. This year they will be delving into the topic of rare cancer. Therefore, "WAR" is seeking donation from organization or any individual to help with the cost of attending this conference.

Information gathered will be of great help to the warriors, family and friends as well as noting that continuous education on rare cancer, which is vital for the future of millions of Australians.

The pain of losing a love one is unfathomable, and as a decent human being, we have a duty of care towards our fellow mankind.

So, I urge you to dig deep into your pockets. Your donation, no matter how minuscule may that be, could lead to someone living a manageable existence in the midst of an incurable disease.

Please click here if you would like to donate.

My gratitude to Jody and Brian for supplying the images.

References:
Australian Cancer Research Foundation
Cancer Council Australia
Rare Cancers Australia
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Why? Raise funds for rare cancer
When: Anytime
Where: Please visit their website
Cost: Donation
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