(LONDON) — A northern England woman has turned a medical condition that causes her to grow excessive facial hair into a positive fundraising effort during “Movember,” with the aim of creating awareness and support for prostate cancer.
Siobhain Fletcher, 36, of Leek, Staffordshire, was diagnosed as a teenager with polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormone imbalance which causes her to grow excessive facial hair. She told ABC News she wasn’t diagnosed until she was 23, but in hindsight, the symptoms were there for years.
“When I started getting my periods, they never became regular — I thought that was a bonus!” she said. “I started getting a few hairs, around 15 or 16. Every woman gets facial hair. I thought that was just part of puberty. I cut with scissors, or shaved them off.”
Fletcher, who works as a manager of equestrian supplies in the town south of Manchester, was diagnosed with the syndrome during a reflexology session in her 20s. She has tried nearly every method to rid herself of facial hair since, with few results.
Earlier this month, though, her friend Ashley told her that he was participating in “Movember,” the month-long facial hair growing event men participate in to raise awareness of prostate and other male cancer. Fletcher decided to turn the beard she’s had her entire adult life into something positive.
“He told me about ‘Movember,’ and in a spur-of-the-moment decision, I decided to grow mine,” she said.
Since setting up her profile on Movember’s UK website, Fletcher has already raised over $1,500. She told ABC News that nearly $500 has been raised on her page in the last 24 hours, since her story gained attention. She says she’s happy to be getting international recognition.
“It helps people get checked for prostate and testicular cancer, and hopefully people will, instead of going to a funeral, be going to a remission party,” she said.
Fletcher said that her participation in the event has also brought support from others who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome, and has also brought increased awareness of the syndrome.
“To actually go out there, and get out there, you see people still have manners. People may look, but mostly it’s been very positive,” she said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio