Woodford residents Helen Ngawhare and Jackson Hepner are both fighting cancer.
Woodford residents Helen Ngawhare and Jackson Hepner are both fighting cancer.

Courageous cancer sufferer helps fellow patient’s cause

A Woodford woman in the midst of her second cancer battle has courageously put aside her own struggles to fundraise for another family fighting the deadly disease.

Helen Ngawhare suffers from Lynch syndrome, which means she and her family live with a genetic predisposition to different cancer types.

The 51-year-old has lost her grandmother, father and brother to various cancers.

But it's this tragedy that has spurred Ms Ngawhare to help others, reaching out to the Hepner family from Mt Archer.

Ms Ngawhare has been a family friend "for years" and has witnessed 20-year-old Jackson Hepner's struggle with cancer.

Mr Hepner had only just completed Year 12 when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer.

Since then his family's world has revolved around chemotherapy, surgery and radiation treatments.

Mr Hepner has recently taken part in a clinical trial at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane.

Woodford resident Helen Ngawhare during cancer treatment.
Woodford resident Helen Ngawhare during cancer treatment.

Ms Ngawhare was receiving chemotherapy when she decided to spring into action, organising a fundraiser for Mr Hepner and his family.

"Rather than just doing a Go Fund Me (page) I wanted to do something Jackson could actually see with the whole community coming together," she said.

She said the public's response had been overwhelming.

The Action for Jackson fundraiser has resulted in prizes from across the region being donated and a car rally held.

The most moo-ving fundraiser however will be held on Monday, when in true country style, proceeds from a cattle sale will also be donated.

"It's just unbelievable, I'm very stoked with the support we've had, it's been very humbling," Ms Ngawhare said.

"It's bought us all to tears at times.

"Hopefully we can help Jackson get some funds together to recoup a little bit from what they've spent … there is a lot of out of pockets with cancer treatment."

Woodford resident Helen Ngawhare and Jackson Hepner.
Woodford resident Helen Ngawhare and Jackson Hepner.

Ms Ngawhare said Mr Hepner was very humble and never complained despite his monumental battle.

"For young people it's a whole lot different for their mental health, especially as a young man he's kept it a lot inside," she said.

"I think it's been a big boost to his mental wellbeing just to know people care and to see everyone try and help in the best way they can."

20 year old Jackson Hepner from Mount Archer near Kilcoy, who has been battling osteosarcoma. Photo: Lachie Millard
20 year old Jackson Hepner from Mount Archer near Kilcoy, who has been battling osteosarcoma. Photo: Lachie Millard

As for her own battle, the Woodford resident is fighting cancer in her chest cavity.

"Hopefully I'll be able to get surgery shortly and get it removed, so far it hasn't spread anywhere else which I'm very grateful for," she said.

"If I cark it tomorrow at least I've had a good life," she said with a laugh.

"For Jackson it's different … he's just starting out his life and I've had a really good one."

If you wish to donate, an ANZ bank account has been set up for Jackson.

Account name: J Hepner

BSB: 014306

Account Number: 413730351