14 October 2022

Tracey is strutting the runway in Wagga this 'Frocktober' to raise awareness of ovarian cancer

| Evelyn Karatzas
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Maureen Lord and her daughter Tracey Page

Maureen Lord and her daughter Tracey Page in hospital a few days before Maureen passed away. Photo: Tracey Page.

Tracey Page is one of many people who have lost a loved one due to an ongoing, tragic battle with cancer.

Her mother, Maureen Lord, best described as a bubbly, caring and lovable Wagga woman, died in 2020 after fighting ovarian cancer for 20 months.

A mother of two and a grandmother of five, her symptoms were unfortunately misdiagnosed, which isn’t uncommon with women, as screening for ovarian cancer is unavailable.

With one woman dying every eight hours in Australia from it, Tracey decided to get involved in ‘Frocktober’, to raise much-needed awareness.

“Cancer is one of those things that just touches so many people, so by doing something like this and raising that awareness for ovarian cancer, it gives you a sense of pride,” she said.

“I wanted to help make people more aware of ovarian cancer and its risks, because the symptoms are so obscure that doctors think it’s something else.

“You have cervical cancer tests, you have your pap smears, you have your mammograms for breast cancer checkups, however with ovarian cancer, there’s nothing.”

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Tracey said her mother’s cancer journey began in December 2017, when she started feeling ‘off’.

“We had taken her to the doctor’s in February the following year (2018) , where they narrowed it down to parasites and then put her on antibiotics,” she said. “They didn’t work.”

More testing was completed over the next few months, then Maureen was told she had gallstones. She booked in to see a surgeon in Wagga, but the waiting list was still months away as she was a public patient.

A gallbladder attack followed on 3 May and she was then taken to Wagga Base Hospital, where she spoke with a surgeon the next morning to organise a scan and an operation to remove the gall bladder.

After the scan he told her she had ovarian cancer. She was referred to the Riverina Cancer Centre in Wagga and then was told that she needed to see a gynaecological oncologist in Sydney or Melbourne, as they couldn’t operate on her in Wagga.

Six weeks later, she went to Melbourne for “debulking surgery” at the Royal Women’s Hospital. Months of chemotherapy followed, but she never went into remission.

Tracey said ovarian cancer didn’t just attack the ovaries, it attacked other organs in that area. Maureen had two major procedures on her lungs and a partial bowel resection.

“With other types of cancer, people are often diagnosed with stage one or two, and then there’s treatment available, but unfortunately for my mum, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at stage four,” Tracey said.

“Only 29 per cent of stage four patients survive five years after their diagnosis, and the survival rates are extremely low, compared to other cancers; breast cancer has an 81 per cent survival rate for stage three.

“My mum died five days before her 79th birthday on the 4th of February in 2020, which is World Cancer Day.”

Maureen Lord and all her grandkids

Maureen Lord, her husband Ralph Lord and their grandkids Samantha, Megan, Brett, Kate and Thomas, 25 years ago. Photo: Tracey Page.


As Maureen’s symptoms were misdiagnosed, Tracey strongly encourages other women to regularly check in with their doctor if they are unwell.

“There’s one thing you can do, which is a vaginal ultrasound where they can look into a woman’s cervix, which can be a slight indication to ovarian cancer,” she said.

“Although it’s not a detection, it’s worth looking into. Just keep asking for as many tests as possible, and don’t give up till you get an answer.”

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As ovarian cancer is something Tracey is passionate about advocating for, she has teamed up with her friend Judy-Ann Embreson, (who lost her sister to the disease in 2019), to host a special fashion parade to raise awareness during Frocktober.

The Frocktober Fashion Parade, to be held at the RSL Club in Wagga Wagga on Sunday 30 October from 2 pm – 5 pm, invites you to watch ‘City Chic’ models take the runway in their best frocks, to raise money for a worthy cause.

“The idea of Frocktober, is to raise awareness and do things with frocks (fancy dresses) during October,” Tracey said.

“So both my daughter Megan and I have been wearing a different dress every day during this month and we post our photos on Facebook and ask people for donations.

“Judy and I thought the fashion parade would be a great way to get people to come together to raise funds and raise awareness for a cause that sits closely with both of our hearts.”

There will be plenty of entertainment, lucky door prizes, a raffle and a guessing competition. A wooden memorial tree will also be on display. People will be handed little cards to write a memory on of someone who passed away from ovarian cancer. These will be placed on the tree.

Tracey and Judy aim to hold two fundraising events per year for ovarian cancer, with events scheduled for February and October next year.

To buy tickets to the Frocktober Fashion Parade, visit Trybooking, and to donate, visit Tracey’s fundraising page.

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