Helen Harder Foundation – raising awareness for breast cancer in young women

After her own diagnosis, Helen Harder was keen to get the subject of breast cancer out in the open and make other young women more breast aware.

Established in 2013, the Helen Harder Foundation is a registered non-profit organisation that works towards providing a combination of financial assistance, concrete medical advice and emotional support to women under the age of 40 who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. The founder is Alwyn Badenhorst (36). He created the charity foundation in memory of his loving wife, Helen Harder. In December 2012 at the age of 32, she lost her battle to breast cancer.

Alwyn and Helen originally met in 1998. They remained in contact as friends but in 2010, their friendship turned into a relationship and shortly after a marriage. In 2011, Helen discovered a lump in her breast, which was later removed, diagnosed as stage 3 breast cancer. After seeking a second opinion, she discovered she had stage 4 breast cancer. Helen was surprised because there was no history of breast cancer in her family.

During her chemotherapy, radiation and brain surgery, she remained positive hoping she could beat cancer. She created a blog as a journal to document her journey, to educate and inspire woman from all over the world. She participated in events that raise awareness to help fight this disease.

Alwyn has carried on Helen’s fight through the Helen Harder Foundation.

“I started the foundation especially for young women, because there are so many cancer and breast cancer organisations and foundations, but not specifically focused on younger women,” says Alwyn.

“I experienced that women under 40 have different questions and concerns than women who are older. I thought there is definitely a lack of support in this sense and we wanted to start something that Helen was very fond of.”

Alwyn lives in Somerset West, Western Cape and loves the outdoors. He also plays golf and enjoys mountain biking. According to him, the sooner breast cancer is detected the better your chances of survival.

“There are terrific doctors and medical personnel out there that can certainly help. A positive attitude certainly plays a very big role. Never assume you are too young to get breast cancer.”

The Helen Harder Foundation’s aim is to continuously raise awareness and inspire women to keep up to date with their breast exams, and to seek support if diagnosed.

To honor Helen’s incredible legacy, the Foundation encourages their supporters to participate in sporting events worldwide as a means of raising awareness. To date, supporters have participated in events including the annual Knysna Half Marathon (which forms part of the Oyster Festival Programme), The Cape Argus Cycle Tour, The 100km Outeniqua Quest Stage Trail, and the ITU World Triathlon Series (held in Cape Town in April), as well as the Berlin Marathon to raise funds and awareness for the foundation.

According to Alwyn, the Helen Harder Foundation wants to get more involved with helping people that cannot afford breast reconstruction. “We want to increase our funds to be able to assist women with this dream. We are very excited and look forward to our charity winter ball coming up again this year. The fundraiser is set to take place on August 15, at Lord Charles hotel in Somerset West.“ More information will be available on the Foundation’s Facebook page.

The Helen Harder Foundation has not only embraced Helen’s ethos, but also adopted her favourite motto, “Live every moment, Laugh every day, Love beyond measure,” as its own.

Alwyn says to honor Helen’s memory it’s important to make time for these things every day.

People must never lose hope, life is short, always try to be positive

For more information on the Helen Harder Foundation, visit www.helenharderfoundation.com or contact them at[email protected]

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