A year in review, A year of firsts

A year in review by Rare Ovarian Cancer Inc. ROC Inc. Founder and CEO Tasha Armour 

**Edit this post was written to be posted to celebrate the end of the year and the start of an exciting New Year for 2020. I unfortunately was caught in the fire zone with no power, limited phone service and no internet.

No words can describe the devastation happening, my gratitude and admiration goes out to the fearless and dedicated fire fighters and service men and women who are the heroes of our nation. Thank you

Highlights from a year of firsts

What a massive year 2019 has been, achieving so much. We could not have achieved all that we have so far without the ever-growing support from our community, businesses and through your likes and shares on our social media platforms.

Each step forward has been a learning curve for our board and committee members, as each of us have had the challenges of our new roles while learning how to balance volunteering our time and expertise for the greater good of ovarian cancer awareness and research with the busy lives, we each currently lead.

January seen us start the year in one of the biggest steps forward for Juvenile Granulosa Cell Tumour- jGCT research. I delivered my first public speech for ROC Inc. which I struggled to deliver choking up with lots of tears. The upside, I did manage to finish the speech and ROC Inc won the community’s vote in the Bendigo Bank pitch presentation night and awarded $5,000, the fundraising efforts from our community, donations and selling of merchandise raising another $5,000.

With a giant Bendigo Bank cheque of $10,000 in hand and the generous help from Fly Corporate to fly me down to Melbourne. Jo, Zoe and Neve (diagnosed at 11 months old with jGCT) and myself met with leading Granulosa Cell Tumour researcher Dr Simon Chu and his team, the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, to officially kick off the world’s largest and first systematic research for JGCT.

February had lots of firsts for Ovarian cancer Awareness month including our first birthday that was celebrated in style with the release of merchandise, our ROC Inc t-shirts, that share the message of “I’m creating hope”. These were launched at our first ever fundraising event at the Lakeview Hotel hosted by John Gabriele. The band Ocean Astronauts’ made their first public appearance at the event and were outstanding as were the other musos that volunteered their time. The Rod Mitchel Band with Adrian Herbert and Annalivia along with John Elvis Collins had the rock n’ roll dancing spinning across the floor. There was so much happening including bull riding, a jumping castle, market stalls, animal nursery and the Fairy face painters from Fairy Fantasy Parties who are always a favourite. The entire day was a huge success.

It seen the launch of the beautiful Ovarian cancer Awareness Wings thanks to a generous donation from Blue Wave Designs and it made appearances at lots of different places including the Shellharbour Council building where staff, visitors and our Mayor Marianne Saliba all had their photo taken in front of the wings and shared on social media to create more awareness for ovarian cancer and its symptoms to improve the five year survival rate of 46 per cent.

March Balance for Better was this year’s International Women’s Day theme, I was asked to be guest speaker and present a 30-minute speech for the NSW SES. This was a challenge for me to tell the journey of my daughter being diagnosed at 16 years old with jGCT, I also found it very rewarding to be able to bring awareness to ovarian cancer to so many people and I was very thankful for the opportunity.

May 8 is World Ovarian Cancer Awareness Day and we celebrated with a massive community rock drop from all around Australia from the supporters of our Facebook group Rock for ROC to create more awareness.

During May we also made our first appearance at a shopping centre, Warilla Grove with the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Wings. Our volunteers sold raffle tickets, merchandise and talked to people in the community about the symptoms of ovarian cancer to help increase awareness.

June 1st We held our first trivia night hosted by Jeff Webster to a full capacity house at Warilla Bowls and Recreation Club. It was a huge night of fun and fundraising!

September 7th Our first Gala Dinner took place at Warilla Bowls and Recreation Club hosted by Jade and Straney from WaveFM. The night’s entertainment started with guest speakers Dr Simon Chu GCT research from the Hudson Institute, Professor Paul Harnett Director of the Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre at Westmead as well as Jo and Zoe who shared their journey of Neve being diagnosed with JGCT at 11 months old. The party got started on the dance floor with amazing muso’s Rod Mitchel, John Welsh from the Ocean Astronauts and Annalivia Keaveny. It was great to see our local councillors attend in support. The night was a wonderful success and a big thank you goes to the fundraising committee Maree, Melanie, Petra and Kay who worked super hard to achieve the wonderful results; to our creative designer Sally Hall as she once again produced amazing posters and media; and our web guru Doug who was outstanding creating our every wish including an online auction for all the very generous businesses that donated prizes!!!

On September 14th we were invited by Bendigo Bank Oak Flats and Shellharbour to attend the Killalea family day Sculptures at Killalea and we held our very first public rock painting activities. I think Kay is still removing paint and glitter from everywhere!

October Maree, Melanie and myself from the ROC Inc. board presented at our first public presentation about ROC Inc for the Centre for Community-Driven research for an ovarian cancer forum in Sydney, so well received we were invited to attend and present at the Melbourne forum. This was also Melanie’s very first public presentation, well done wonder woman!

It was exciting to see the first preschools and schools get involved in painting rocks for awareness and fundraising for research. Well done Warilla Baptist Preschool, Guildford West Children Centre and Oak Flats Public School and their P&C for matching the funds that the students’ raised.    

November started the air and water plant boards for fundraising that raised thousands of dollars. The generous ladies from the Clayton Craft Camp group buying over $300 worth.

December rocked us with the sad news of the passing of Kristen Larson diagnosed at 21-years-old and Jill Emberson, they were both powerful advocates and public voices for ovarian cancer and their fight for funding fairness.

The Government’s Medical Research Future Funds (MRFF) announced the opening of a grant application for ovarian cancer that can be fundamental research. Granulosa Cell Tumours (GCT) need fundamental research, most of the MRFF grants are only for clinical trial and GCT research is not far enough along to be at the stage of clinical trials. Dr Simon Chu and Professor Peter Fuller from the Hudson Institute, in collaboration with ROC Inc will lead a world class team to apply for this grant. This was the best Christmas present knowing we have the opportunity to apply to the government for financial assistance for GCT research, which will create change for the future for diagnostic tools, treatment options and one day a CURE!       

A special thank you to Viv MacCarthy and the Sew Gentle Era shop in Western Australia. Viv started making crotchet bears to raise money for GCT research. They have raised thousands of dollars and inspired local Illawarra ladies Anne Phillip and Elfie Andersen to jump on board and help make the bears.

Ellen and Bob Glasgow, my amazing parents, have been working hard all year fundraising by selling all sort of items such as frangipani plants, handmade cards, trash and treasure items at Junk in the Trunk and to friends and family. I know Ellen has had massive support from all the Bingo community that she is involved in. Ellen and Bob also collect for Return and Earn to donate to ROC Inc, a shout out to the Anchorage Caravan Park for supporting ROC Inc. and donating all the bottles and cans from the van park.  

We have many things to be proud of and can look forward to the path we are laying to create hope and change for the future. I want to thank you all for your part in making this happen. You are helping to take steps forward to cure a cancer.

Watch this space as 2020 will bring a new year and a new decade full of new adventures and mostly excitingly the start of the world’s first and largest systematic research for jGCT.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Posted in Updates.