Celeste Barber on the Importance of Finding an Early Detection Test for Ovarian Cancer

Our health is arguably the most important thing in life. Until you’re in ill health, you don’t quite realise how important it is. That’s why it’s incredibly important to stay on top of your health — no matter how annoying that might be.

For comedian, actor and writer, Celeste Barber, this is something she is vocal about with her family. When asked how she encourages them to stay on top of their health, Barber tells POPSUGAR Australia: “Well I scream at them, like I did my sister this morning [saying] ‘Go to the doctor if you don’t feel well!’”

“I’m a big believer in kind of, as you get older, keeping on to that sort of stuff and checking in with each other, making sure it’s all okay.”

This is largely why Barber has signed on as this year’s ambassador for the Witchery White Shirt Campaign. For the 13th year running, Australian retailer Witchery has partnered with the Ovarian Research Foundation (OCRF) to raise much-needed funds for research into ovarian cancer.

“I was so stoked when they asked me, I was very chuffed,” Barber said. “I think they’re doing incredible work and with the White Shirt Campaign, 100% of the gross proceeds — that’s everything but GST really — goes towards the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation, because there’s no early detection test for ovarian cancer.”

The statistics around ovarian cancer are incredibly scary, with one woman passing away from the disease every eight hours in Australia. Even more worrying is the fact that over 50 percent of the community believes that a pap test diagnoses ovarian cancer, but it doesn’t. Currently, invasive surgery is the only way of properly detecting and diagnosing ovarian cancer.

The Witchery White Campaign highlights the importance of research in this area, to develop an early detection test that is as readily available and accessible as a pap smear or mammogram. This year, Witchery has collaborated with Australian designer Toni Maticevski to create the white shirt for 2021.

“I’m obsessed with it,” said Barber of Maticevski’s design. “It’s got shoulder pads! love me a shoulder pad because I’m like a Christmas tree, I don’t have shoulders. So a shoulder pad really works for me. It’s so fancy. I really love it.”

For every white shirt sold during the 2021 Witchery White Shirt Campaign, which runs from April 12 to May 8, Witchery will donate 100 percent of the gross proceeds to the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation. To date, Witchery has raised over $13.8 million in donations for ovarian cancer research.

While Barber hasn’t had any personal experiences with this form of cancer, the statistics were too alarming for her to forget. “It’s because of those statistics,” Barber says over her passion for this project. “And, you know, I feel women and especially women of a certain age, like the symptoms of ovarian cancer are really mild. It’s like nausea, or cramping or, you know, tiredness. Show me a woman who hasn’t got all of those things, at least, you know, once a month. So that’s why early detection is so important.”

This year’s White Shirt is available to purchase online or in-store at Witchery. For more information on ovarian cancer, or to make a direct donation, visit the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation website.

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