Mrs. Australian Quest Finalist Veronica Cristovao is raising ovarian cancer awareness “Down Under,” and she hopes to use the pageant as an international platform to further her ovarian cancer advocacy.
Did you know that February is national Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in Australia?
According to the Australian National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre, approximately 1,200 Australian women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2010. On average, three Australian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every day, while two Australian women die from the disease every day or one woman every twelve hours. Ovarian cancer accounts for 55 percent of all Australian gynecological cancer deaths. By way of comparison, 88 out of every 100 Australian women diagnosed with breast cancer will be alive five years after diagnosis, whereas only 40 out of every 100 Australian women diagnosed with ovarian cancer will be alive during that same time period.
These statistics are alarming, and until effective prevention and early detection methods can be identified, awareness of the ovarian cancer early warning signs are critical. Promotion of ovarian cancer awareness and early detection underlie the charitable mission of the Mrs. Australia Quest pageant. The pageant’s mission is artfully expressed through its “beautiful awareness” motto.
Although February has come to an end, we had the pleasure of getting to know Veronica Cristovao, a Mrs. Australia Quest Finalist, earlier this month. Because the Mrs. Australia Quest pageant supports ovarian cancer awareness through Ovarian Cancer Australia, we thought it was important to highlight Veronica’s ovarian cancer advocacy and participation in the pageant. After reading Veronica’s story, you will discover what we already know; win, lose or draw in the final pageant competition, Veronica is already a winner given her amazing talents as an entrepreneur, ovarian cancer advocate, wife, and mother of two young children.
We would like to extend our fullest appreciation to Veronica and her family for allowing us to tell her ovarian cancer advocacy story.
“Character contributes to beauty. It fortifies a woman as her youth fades. A mode of conduct, a standard of courage, discipline, fortitude, and integrity can do a great deal to make a woman beautiful.”
— Jacqueline Bisset, English Actress & Golden Globe and Emmy Award Nominee
Mrs. Australia Quest Pageant
The Mrs. Australia Quest pageant selected Ovarian Cancer Australia as its designated 2011 charity. Ovarian Cancer Australia was founded by individuals directly affected by ovarian cancer, who wanted to raise awareness of the disease and support those who have been affected by it. This founder group includes:
- Nicole Livingstone, a retired Australian swimmer and Olympic medal winner, television sports commentator and radio presenter, and recipient of the Order of Australia Metal, and her sister Karen, who lost their mother and aunt to the disease;
- Simon Lee, whose wife Sheila was the driving force behind the Australian ovarian cancer awareness movement prior to her death in 2001;
- Actress and comedian Lynda Gibson, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2000 and subsequently lost her battle to the disease in 2004; and
- Journalist Tracey Curro, whose mother died from ovarian cancer.
Ovarian Cancer Australia is the country’s only national not-for-profit organization which (i) supports women with ovarian cancer, their families, friends and caretakers with compassionate support programs and practical resources; (ii) educates communities and individuals about the disease to increase their awareness of symptoms and the latest treatment, research and clinical trials from across Australia; and (iii) advocates to improve outcomes, treatment and quality of life for women with ovarian cancer. In 2011, Ovarian Cancer Australia will be celebrating its 10th anniversary.
In support of Ovarian Cancer Australia, the Mrs. Australia Quest pageant is promoting awareness of the early signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer in an attempt to educate the women of Australia and beyond. The overarching goal is to save as many women’s lives as possible.
All Mrs. Australia Quest pageant entrants receive the opportunity to promote themselves, voice their opinions, get involved, network, fulfill personal goals, and most of all to have fun. Moreover, the experience at the Mrs. Australia Quest National Final, which will be held in Sydney during June 2011, promises to be very glamorous and entertaining for all of the women who participate. All participants will be judged based upon the following criteria: personal interview & Q&A submission, photographic session, Evening Attire Competition, Swimwear Competition, Active Wear Competition, promotion of ovarian cancer awareness, and internet popularity voting. Undoubtedly, the Mrs. Australia Quest National Final title winner will experience a life changing event that will open new doors of opportunity and create memorable moments.
The Mrs. Australia Quest national winner will go on to compete in the Mrs. International® pageant which will be held in Chicago, Illinois during July 2011. In this pageant, each contestant has the opportunity to select a platform of her choice, which she will spend the next year promoting. Husbands also play a direct role in this event. Each husband will escort his wife in the Evening Gown competition, and the Mrs. International® pageant winner’s husband will crown his wife as the new titleholder.
Veronica Cristovao – Mrs. Australia Quest Finalist
The Mrs. Australia Quest pageant not only raises money for ovarian cancer, it also raises the profile of the disease by creating ambassadors of young wives in Australia. The pageant’s charitable ovarian cancer awareness mission is what motivated Veronica Cristovao to take part in the 2011 competition.
Veronica is 33 years old and is married to her husband Duarte, who is property developer. The couple has two children; Thomas, a 3-year old boy, and Samantha, an 18-month old girl.
After experiencing the effects of cancer so close to home, Veronica knows all too well the importance of awareness. Veronica’s family relatives have been affected by cancer of the stomach and the breast, as well as lymphoma.
Veronica completed her formal education with a major in Business/Marketing and Computer Science, although she started her work career in the areas of customer service, management and training. Despite that fact, her life-long passion has always been real estate. In fact, before having children, Veronica worked as a real estate agent. She also engaged in part-time modeling and commercials, and met many interesting people along the way.
While pregnant with her first child (Thomas), Veronica studied interior design and decoration. Given her husband’s real estate development expertise, Veronica believed that a background in interior design and decoration would allow her to work side-by-side with Duarte, thereby allowing the couple to share a common passion. Veronica has already completed four major interior design/decoration projects, while raising her young children at the same time. And, her business and marketing background has proved quite helpful in recruiting new clients for her rapidly growing business, which include her brother who happens to be an architect.
Veronica has always been engaged in charitable activities throughout her life, including blood donation and volunteer activities in support of local charitable organizations and children in need. While working and raising a family, Veronica has also been active in raising ovarian cancer awareness. She dedicates a great deal of time to distributing ovarian cancer awareness posters and informational pamphlets within her local community. By all accounts, Veronica’s ovarian cancer awareness campaign has been extremely well received by her community.
This past month, Veronica utilized an Ovarian Cancer Australia awareness campaign called, “Afternoon Teal™.” Through this campaign, Ovarian Cancer Australia invites all Australians to support women diagnosed with ovarian cancer and their families by hosting an Afternoon Teal™ during the month of February. This gathering allows a host, such as Veronica, to invite workmates, friends, and family members to the event with the goal of (i) raising funds to support programs for women touched by ovarian cancer and their families; and (ii) providing vital information regarding the early warning signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. Veronica hosted several successful Afternoon Teal™ events, thereby raising much needed monies for ovarian cancer awareness.
“Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.”
— Sophia Loren, Italian Film Actress & 1962 “Best Actress” Academy Award (Oscar) Winner
During a recent interview with a local Australian news reporter, Veronica said: “Cancer is a horrible disease. I feel so fortunate that I am happy and healthy, I want to take this opportunity to give something back.” Veronica believes that learning to “give back” is a critical life lesson for her children, which is best taught by example. “I want my children to understand how important it is to help people in need. I want them to know just how lucky we are.”
In the Mrs. Australia Quest pageant final to be held in June, Veronica will compete with seven other wives for the opportunity to represent Australia at an international level. Veronica believes that winning the national title in June will give her the requisite international platform to raise awareness about the devastating effects of ovarian cancer. Veronica would also like to note that ovarian cancer is preventable through various means, but as with any cancer, recognizing the early warning signs and symptoms is vital. Because there is no reliable blood test to detect early stage ovarian cancer, Veronica looks forward to the day when such a test is readily available at all Australian medical centers.
As noted above, Veronica has already taken it upon herself to campaign hard for ovarian cancer awareness. That hard work has already resulted in her receipt of approximately 7,500 online votes, which represent 10 percent of the final judging score to determine the next Mrs. Australia Quest. We should note that 50% of monies raised through online voting support Ovarian Cancer Australia.
If you would like to vote for Veronica online, please visit http://www.mrsaustraliaquest.com.au/ and click on the “View Finalists” tab, which is located on the left margin of the Mrs. Australia Quest homepage. All individual donors who vote $100 (AUD) or more will be acknowledged on the Mrs. Australia Quest website. Three business voting packages are also available, which provide an even higher level of donor acknowledgment.
We would like to thank the Cristovao family again for helping us in the preparation of this story, and we wish Veronica all the best with respect to the Mrs. Australia Quest pageant final competition in June 2011. In our humble opinion, Veronica is already a winner and an inspirational ovarian cancer advocate.
- Mrs. Australia Quest Finalist (Veronica Cristovao), by Erin Banales, Inner West Courier, January 17, 2011.
- Report to the Nation – Ovarian Cancer 2010, The [Australian] National Breast & Ovarian Cancer Centre, February 2010.
*“Vox Populi,” a Latin phrase that means “voice of the people,” is a term often used in broadcast journalism to describe an interview of the “man (or woman) on the street.”
In the spirit of Vox Populi, Libby’s H*O*P*E*™ searches online for original writings and visual media created by ovarian cancer survivors, survivors’ family members, cancer advocates, journalists, and health care professionals, which address one or more aspects of ovarian cancer within the context of daily life. The written and visual media features that we discover run the gamut; sometimes poignant, sometimes educational, sometimes touching, sometimes comedic, but always honest. The Vox Populi feature may take the form of an essay, editorial, poem, letter, story, song or video picture montage.
It is our hope that the Vox Populi feature will allow our readers to obtain, in some small way, a better understanding of how ovarian cancer impacts the life of a woman diagnosed with the disease and her family. We invite all readers to submit, or bring to our attention, original writings and visual media suitable for publication as Vox Populi features.