The girl with colitis.
I recently completed my Master of Professional Accounting and am currently working in Finance. (I think a lot of people are under the impression that Finance is really boring, so I'd like to show that that's not the case!)
I first heard about Decembeard® from my friend Antonio, who was participating last year with a group of his mates.
I've always had a thing for facial hair, so I freely admit that that was the initial attraction!
However, once I read Antonio's story about his friend Deano who had passed away at the age of 26, and how that had inspired him and his mates to get involved in this campaign, I knew I wanted to get involved as well.
I never had the opportunity to meet Deano, but he's still been a huge inspiration to me.
Since becoming involved in Decembeard®, I've heard many stories from friends and family who have been affected by bowel cancer.
I learned that Elizabeth, who I'd met back when I lived in Canberra, had passed away in July from bowel cancer.
I heard that my Uncle Mick is currently battling bowel cancer.
I've had numerous people tell me of their own connections to this disease.
I've even had a good friend of mine, who works as a nurse, tell me that as a result of my Decembeard efforts she has been inspired to research further into bowel diseases, and that this knowledge has helped her provide better care to her patients.
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2014, shortly after my younger sister was (hence my personal Decembeard team name, "The Girl with Colitis").
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that basically means my large intestine doesn't function the way that it should.
Aside from creating day-to-day challenges, this disease also puts me at high risk of bowel cancer.
When my symptoms (constant, bloody diarrhoea and cramping) first appeared, I was scared.
However, I was lucky that my sister had told me about her own symptoms, and so I knew that I needed to see a doctor right away.
I know that not everybody is so lucky to have a close friend or family member who can guide and support them when they begin to experience symptoms, and encourage them to undergo further investigation.
I think that's really concerning, because bowel cancer can be successfully treated in 90 per cent of cases if detected early.
So my goal is to spread awareness about bowel cancer.
I hope that people who see me or hear my story will be encouraged to talk to their doctor early about their bowel activity.
As a female, I feel I'm in a really fortunate position to be able to spread awareness of bowel cancer in a fun way, through wearing brightly-coloured knitted beards.
I certainly drew a lot of attention last year, and I'm sure this year will be even bigger!
This Decembeard, join me in raising awareness and raising funds for Bowel Cancer Australia and help us to beat bowel cancer by signing up today.
About the beards: I knit each one by hand, using a pattern I found online which I've heavily modified to suit the look I'm going for. I've come up with a couple of new & improved designs this year, which I look forward to modelling!