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A HERA Story


The mission of the HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation is to stop the loss of women from ovarian cancer by promoting Health, Empowerment, Research, and Awareness. They do this in various ways but there signature event is the Climb 4 Life series. Which I have been lucky enough to work as a guide for 5 years and the Colorado Mountain School has been proud sponsors of now for a few years. This year I am doing both. I have a fundraising team and I will be working as a guide.


My story with HERA began nearly 30 years ago. Before I had even heard of Ovarian cancer. This was the day I first went rock climbing. It was a cold damp (I grew up in the UK) March day and I had the chance to rock climb. I stepped up climbed halfway up a 5.4 and my hiking boot fell off. So I was lowered to the ground re tied my hiking boot  and continued climbing up the 2 pitch route and then rapelled back to the ground. What does this have to do with HERA? This was the day I was hooked on climbing!

Fast forward 20 years to New Zealand. I was living in New Zealand starting a non-profit working with people with disabilities in the outdoors. My parents came to visit me and we had a great time hiking, travelling and enjoying the beautiful New Zealand countryside. As we adventured my Mum commented frequently about feeling bloated and like she had gas. She also felt full really soon at meals. Looking back she had 3 of the key Ovarian cancer symptoms the only ones missing were Urinary/bowel concerns and vaginal bleeding, and who chats about those things with their Mum. I left my parents to guide a 5 day sea kayaking trip in the Abel Tasman national park. I was jolted back from white sand beaches, kayaking with seals and clear blue seas by multiple voicemails from my Dad letting me know Mum was in hospital. My Mum had Ovarian cancer! She had treatment and thankfully went into remission for 1 year when she was able to enjoy travel, hiking her family and my wedding. Ovarian cancer came back and despite more treatment she died on Thursday July the 13th 2006.

When I moved to Colorado I discovered HERA and it seemed like the perfect way to honor the memory of my Mum doing something I love to do. This year I signed up as a fundraiser also to raise money to help prevent ovarian cancer. We will climb all day with people with varied stories and abilities. Some just discovered it was a great way to get a cheap guided intro to climbing day, some are researchers, some climb, like me, to honor the memory of someone, some to celebrate life. The day is about camaraderie, laughter and fun.There will be professional climbers hanging out and chatting. Ever wanted a belay from Tommy Caldwell? Then we will all enjoy swimming in the Eldo Pool and eating great food, silent auction, raffle and free beer all benefitting ovarian cancer.

If you want to donate you can follow this link to the authors fundraising page.

HERA whats it all about? For me it is about  remembering my Mum doing something I love to do.

ian family

Ian with his two daughters Vivienne (Named after his Mum) and Viola

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