A CHARITY set up by the family of a young woman who died of cancer is marking 10 years of helping other women in the area diagnosed with the disease.

Victoria’s Promise was founded in 2014 in memory of Victoria Van Der Westhuizen, from Hook, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in November 2013 and died just two months later in January 2014.

The 29-year-old received the diagnoses just months after losing her father, David Eastman, to cancer.

READ MORE: Basingstoke man admits stalking Fern Britton travelling 200 miles to be near her 

Basingstoke Gazette: Victoria Van Der WesthuizenThe make-up artist and model vowed to start a charity to support victims of cancer, having also lost her grandmother to cancer as a child and seeing her mother, Fiona Eastman, battle bowel cancer.

Her family continued her promise following her death, and the charity has since supported hundreds of women receiving treatment for cancer at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT), to support and empower them through their journey and beyond.

Fiona, Victoria’s mother, said: “Victoria’s Promise was launched 10 years ago not as a knee jerk reaction to Victoria dying, but to uphold the promise she asked us to make which is that she wanted to help other young women going through cancer. As she wasn’t able to do so, her brother, husband and me felt we needed to uphold that promise.”

Fiona explained that in the early days of the charity it supported young women being treated for cancer at Basingstoke hospital to help them look and feel more themselves “so they weren’t perceived as cancer victims”. This included providing wigs and make-up treatments.

SEE ALSO: Town transformed into eerie apocalyptic set for Hollywood blockbuster film

Fiona said this was something that meant a lot to her daughter, explaining: “I strongly remember that when I supported her, she remained at a London clinic and I remember a mirror above the wash hand basin – it’s a vision that will never leave me – she caught a glimpse of herself and shuddered. Nothing was verbally said, but it was clear from her reaction that she was shocked by the change in her appearance.

Basingstoke Gazette: Fiona and Victoria“People forget all too readily that when you’ve been given a cancer diagnosis you are the same person, but everyone just sees you as someone who’s going through cancer. That is something we try to address with Victoria’s Promise. You are an even greater version of you, because the challenge brings massive growth in you as a human being.”

Fiona now offers personal support to women with cancer, having gone through treatment for the disease herself.

“We give space to young women to express their feelings in a group with others who really know what they are going through,” she said.

Services offered by the charity have since expanded to include support for family members, including physical, emotional and practical needs such as counselling, home cleaning and alternative therapies.

The charity has also expanded to cover all of HHFT hospitals - Winchester and Andover - as well as Basingstoke.

Fiona said she is always thinking about Victoria when it comes to the charity, adding: “Of course, I lean into that the whole time, that this wouldn’t have been if my daughter, in her short journey with cancer in her giving nature, wanted to help others.”

In 2021 the charity launched an app which is available to young women across the country, which now has 700 people benefiting from it.

The charity’s aims going forward are to raise more funds to kick-start the next 10 years, when it hopes to organise live meet-ups at oncology hospitals across the country.

“It is sad to see how many young women are being diagnosed with cancer and it’s an honour to offer them some comfort and to ease their journey,” said Fiona, who urged women to be aware of their body and listen to it.

“You know your body better than anyone else,” she said, adding: “Push and let’s hope you push for tests that prove to not be necessary.

"The treatments for cancer are more and more successful so don’t live in fear of diagnosis but in the hope that you can come out the other side.”

Fiona also thanked those who have supported the charity, saying: "Victoria’s Promise is always grateful to individuals and corporates who support the charity. It is a vital life line for us in our funding. 

"Two such organisations at present in the Basingstoke area who are offering incredible support are Katy and Jack Gardener of Phillips Law and Carrie O’Herlihy who is the Lady Captain for 2024 - 2025 at the amazing new Basingstoke Golf Club which is due to open soon.

Victoria’s Promise is holding a 10-year anniversary fundraising ball on Saturday, June 15 with live music and entertainment."

The black tie, dinner and dance at De Vere Beaumont Estate in Windsor, will include a three-course meal, with tickets costing £125 per person.

For more information visit victoriaspromise.org.