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A night of painting and prevention

by Candice Pye January 16, 2018
A night of painting and prevention

Concordia alumna and student host fundraiser in support of Ovarian Cancer Canada

Concordia alumna Veronica Tamburro’s life was turned upside down when she discovered her grandmother had been diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer.

“I was very close with her, so it was something that affected me greatly,” Tamburro said. Her grandmother suffered through the disease for five years before she eventually passed away from complications six years ago.

Tamburro and her mother have since dedicated countless hours to Ovarian Cancer Canada, an organization that provides support to those facing diagnosis, as well as their family members. For years, Tamburro has played a central role in the organizing committee for the annual Montreal Walk of Hope, raising awareness about the disease and fundraising to finance ovarian cancer research. Walk of Hope is Ovarian Cancer Canada’s main awareness-raising, fundraising event in the city.

This year, Tamburro has taken her involvement as a volunteer to a new level by collaborating with Paint Nite and Ovarian Cancer Canada to organize “Let’s Get Loud! Paint Nite Edition,” an event where a local artist will guide guests through two hours of painting, socializing, food and raffles at Concordia.

“Veronica came to me and said she wanted to do something beyond the Walk of Hope to really bring the community together and raise awareness,” said Jennifer Laliberté, Ovarian Cancer Canada’s regional director for Quebec. “It’s really been her and Athena Sita. That’s what makes this community so amazing. There are people like Veronica and Athena who give us their time and energy to support the cause. They’ve been amazing.”

From left, organizers Athena Sita and Veronica Tamburro are raising awareness and funds for Ovarian Cancer Canada. Photo by Alex Hutchins

Tamburro said Athena Sita, a current Concordia student, has been her partner-in-crime throughout the entire creation and organization process of the event. Both women are artistic, driven and passionate about volunteering, so she said hosting a Paint Nite event to support Ovarian Cancer Canada with Sita seemed like the best opportunity to express their artistic side and attract more attention to the fundraiser.

“We’ve known each other for a long time,” Sita said. “We actually met in our English class in CEGEP about seven years ago. We’ve been close since then.”

Tamburro approached Sita with the idea in October and the two have worked comfortably together ever since.

“It’s been very smooth-sailing. We communicate all the time, and whenever one of us can’t do something, the other one pulls through. It’s like dating,” Tamburro said with a laugh. “Communication is key.”

Hosting an event to support Ovarian Cancer Canada is extremely important to both Tamburro and Sita, not only because of the loss of Tamburro’s grandmother, but because of the nature of the disease itself.

“A lot of emphasis is put on breast cancer. Ovarian cancer is the ‘other’ women’s disease,” Tamburro explained. “It’s lesser known, but it’s just as important. If you’re a woman, if you have ovaries, if you’re a feminist, it’s something you should care about.”

Sita agreed, stressing the importance of self-education on the topic. “I didn’t know anything about ovarian cancer until Veronica started mentioning it. So, I said, ‘Maybe I should start doing research on how I can get myself checked out.’ This fundraiser is a great way for people to learn more about the disease,” Sita said.

According to Ovarian Cancer Canada, the disease is one of the deadliest forms of cancer. With a mortality rate of 56 per cent, more than half the people who are diagnosed with it die within five years. In Canada alone, approximately 2,800 women are diagnosed every year.

“A lot of the symptoms people with ovarian cancer can have can also be associated with regular menstrual symptoms, such as abdominal and pelvic cramps, back pain, muscle aches, fluctuation in appetite,” Tamburro explained. “This is why many people only find out at a late stage when the cancer has already progressed significantly.”

Laliberté expressed how surprising it is that we hear so little about ovarian cancer given how difficult it is to manage. She said one of the reasons the disease is so deadly is because there is a lot we still don’t understand about it, which is why Ovarian Cancer Canada is working to increase the amount of money they donate to ovarian cancer research—so people can understand it better, catch it earlier and seek better treatments.

Laliberté will be at the Paint Nite event herself, giving out information about the disease, such as how to recognize the signs and symptoms and how to evaluate and understand your own risk factors. She will also be providing information about Ovarian Cancer Canada, what they do and how people can get involved.

The event will take place in the G-Lounge at Concordia’s Loyola campus at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 19. Although the Paint Nite tickets are sold out, those interested will be able to purchase a ticket for $20 at the door, allowing them to participate in the raffle and enjoy food, non-alcoholic drinks and a DJ. Half of the ticket proceeds will be donated to Ovarian Cancer Canada along with all revenue from the raffle and food sales.

“It’s as if there will be two events in one. There will be an area where Paint Nite is happening, and a lounge area at the back where we’ll have a DJ,” Tamburro said.

To those who cannot attend the event, Tamburro said doing research and donating goes a long way. She and Sita said they are both very excited to be doing some good for the organization.

“It is something that is so meaningful to [Veronica] and so important her family,” Laliberté said. “She wanted to share that.”

Photos by Alex Hutchins

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