It has been nine years since Ann, 62, was diagnosed with breast cancer, after two lumps were discovered in a routine mammogram.
“My mum had breast cancer so I was on the list for having mammograms every year. It was a routine one and they said ‘oh, you've got to go and have some more tests’,” Ann says of her diagnosis and treatment. “It was a bit busy there for a while; I had reconstructive surgery and what I thought would be two years out of my life ended up being about seven!”
But that didn’t stop her hosting her first Girls’ Night In event the year after her diagnosis, roping in friends, family and colleagues to attend, donate, and help with preparations.
Her friends are now so committed that if Ann thinks this might be the year she finally gives it up, they won’t let her – even if it becomes a last-minute scramble! Everyone brings a plate, and over the years they have also sourced raffle prizes, and eagerly taken part in the main event: a Dutch auction, where everyone writes bids down for wrapped presents.
A key part of the reason is the cause.
“Somebody usually knows somebody who's had breast cancer or had some other form of cancer,” Ann says, and she hopes raising money for research will eventually lead to much better treatments. In the meantime, she made use of Cancer Council’s support hotline and financial services and is glad they’re there for those who need it.
Ann’s top hosting tips:
• Don’t be shy about asking for donations. “I always say on the invitation, ‘bring your wallet, it's a fundraiser’ – and open it!”
• Delegate, delegate, delegate. “People are quite happy usually to bring a plate. I found that even if I say ‘no, no, no, don't do it’ people will bring something anyway!”
• Charge an entry fee so everyone donates something, and people will pay for even silly games such as guessing the number of champagne corks in a box if it’s for a good cause.