It’s the month of October. A month that asks us to be aware. It hosts Frocktober, and the hope that we can find an early detection test for Ovarian cancer. It’s also the awareness month for women’s cancers in general. Mental health awareness week is in October. We are called to be aware and accepting (mostly accepting) of those with one extra chromosome — Downs Syndrome. It’s also the month that hosts Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. Through personal experience, my friends and family, all of these causes hit home for me. All of them are close to my heart. All of them touch on the importance of celebrating and protecting life.
I wonder what it is about October that brings all these things together? The change of season perhaps? The hope that our attention can be gained before all thoughts turn to Christmas? Whatever it is, they are all deserving of attention.
For the past three years I have been involved in the Frocktober challenge. Participants wear a dress every day for the month of October (the fun part). They ask people to donate much needed funds so that an early detection test for Ovarian cancer can be found (the important part). The sad fact is most women don’t find out they have Ovarian cancer until it has spread. When diagnosed in its late stages only 20%-30% of women will survive beyond five years of diagnosis. Survival rates increase to 80-100% when ovarian cancer is detected and treated early. Another sad fact is that The Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation receives no government funding to continue their important research work.
So rather than wallow in self pity about the lack of support, women do what women do best. Pull on a frock and get on with it.
There have been numerous times in my life when I have found some kind of armour in a well-cut dress. I know the pain of infant loss — and I still wear the dress I wore to his funeral when I have the opportunity to speak for and of him. White lace, defiant in the face of grief and the whisper of hope. I know what it’s like to have anxiety gnaw at your self-worth. Putting on a dress might not seem like much, but sometimes looking fabulous can penetrate feelings and bring a little light.
So many of the milestones in my life have a special dress attached to them. My wedding dress. My formal dress. The dress I wore to my first “real” job interview. The first dress I made. The last dress I made. Even the dress that I w
ore when I was in labour with my first son. I (naively) thought that dress would see me through to delivery. Looking through my frocks is a little like looking through a photo album. History, happiness and sadness all woven into the fabrics.
And I have a chance to revisit those dresses in October. Pulling out long forgotten dresses and reminding myself of what we have been through together.
There is a lot of power in a dress.
If you would like to support the work of The Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation, please consider supporting my Froctober efforts here. I’m playing along on Instagram with the other Froctober2016 lovelies.
Do you have memories associated with certain dresses?