Helen Harder began her love affair with South Africa when she arrived from Germany to work as an Au Pair. That December in 1998 she met her future husband, Alwyn Badenhorst for the first time. They became friends and kept in contact, but when Helen returned to South Africa in April 2010 for a friend’s wedding, sparks flew between them and there was an undeniable chemistry in the air. So much so that in June 2010, Alwyn flew up to visit Helen in Germany where they decided that Helen would move to South Africa and that they’d spend the rest of their lives together.
Helen began a personal blog called The Harder The Better in March 2011 after being diagnosed with breast cancer. She used this platform as an online journal to write down her thoughts throughout her treatments, daily activities, and upcoming events. Her blog posts are both honest and as positive as what she was. She hoped to be an inspiration to others who had also been diagnosed with cancer.
Helen had a go-getter spirit and wasn’t about to let anything – not even cancer – stop her from competing in the March 2012 Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour. Although she continued to train, she was cautious, as she didn’t want to exert herself too much. Her training consisted of going for rides twice a week, regular jogging and Pilates.
Her aim for doing the race was to provide awareness and to show people what could still be done while undergoing chemo. The Pink Drive, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving breast cancer awareness, education and providing services to women across the country, cheered for her as one of its team members.
“Live every moment, laugh every day and love beyond measure.”
This was the motto by which Helen lived her life.
In January 2011, Helen discovered a lump on her breast. After seeing her doctor, she was scheduled for a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. The results of all three tests confirmed that she had developed stage 3 breast cancer.
This came as an extreme shock to Helen as she had been living a healthy life – eating fruit and vegetables and exercising daily - and had no family history of cancer whatsoever.
After going for a second opinion, it was discovered that the cancer had progressed to stage 4 and that it had spread to other areas of her body. Helen underwent chemotherapy, radiation and brain surgery in an effort to beat the cancer.
Throughout the treatments and surgeries, Helen remained positive. She was determined that cancer wouldn’t rule her life and define who she was.
Together with her optimistic attitude, Helen also had the support and encouragement from Alwyn, as well as her family and friends.
Helen believed that everything happens for a reason and that this was the path that God had chosen for her – whether she beat the cancer or not. In December 2012, two months after getting married to her boyfriend, Helen lost her battle to cancer. Her husband, Alwyn decided to keep her legacy alive by putting together an inspiring website in her honour, as well as a means to helping other women who are fighting cancer. This is what The Helen Harder Foundation is all about.
FEATURED ARTICLES ON HELEN'S JOURNEY: