CoppaFeel! founder Kris Hallenga dies aged 38 from breast cancer

Kris Hallenga
CoppaFeel! said Hallenga "showed us that it is possible to live life to the full with cancer" [Getty Images]

Kris Hallenga, founder of breast cancer awareness charity CoppaFeel!, has died at the age of 38.

The campaigner, who was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer 15 years ago, encouraged millions of women to check their breasts.

Hallenga was diagnosed when she was 23 after being turned away from her GP for more than a year.

Her friend, broadcaster and author Fearne Cotton, said: "She lived more fully than I've ever seen anyone live."

CoppaFeel!'s mission was to educate young people about breast cancer to ensure early, and potentially life-saving, diagnoses.

In a statement on Monday confirming her death, the charity CoppaFeel! said: "Kris approached life in a wildly creative, fun and fearless way, and showed us that it is possible to live life to the full with cancer."

It added that she had died "with fulfilment and a heart full of love".

(Left to right): Kris Hallenga, Fearne Cotton, Amanda Byram and Maren Hallenga at a music festival hosted by Coppafeel!
(Left to right): Kris Hallenga, Fearne Cotton, Amanda Byram and twin sister Maren Hallenga at a music festival hosted by Coppafeel! [Getty Images]

Alongside her philanthropic work, Hallenga was also a columnist at The Sun and author of best-selling book Glittering a Turd, which details how she discovered her life after being told she would die.

In 2014, a documentary about her life and work - Kris: Dying to Live - was aired on BBC Three.

In it, she said: "I feel like I'm a voice for other girls going through [cancer]. Every day that I enjoy, that I am grateful for, is another level of acceptance for me.

"We are all going to die. I am just aware that it might happen sooner than I possibly had planned."

'It was phenomenal'

Last year, Hallenga held a living funeral, attended by celebrities including Dawn French, at Truro Cathedral.

At the event, also called a pre-funeral, French revived her Vicar of Dibley role as Geraldine Granger and delivered a eulogy.

Reflecting on the day, the 65-year-old actress said: "It was my privilege and joy to Dibley it up at Kris's FUNeral on Sat. She wanted to host the best possible party. She did. It was phenomenal."

Explaining her reason for wanting to have a living funeral, Hallenga said: "I want to be present at the event where my people have a thing or two to say about me, where I have the opportunity to show how much they mean to me."

One month after her diagnosis, Hallenga set up CoppaFeel! with her twin sister Maren to help raise awareness at schools and music festivals.

On Monday, the charity said that Hallenga's family had requested "peace and privacy".

"Please remember the amazing life Kris led and the things she achieved, but above all else honour her memory by checking your chest... it could just save your life," it added.

In England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, cancer treatment should start within 62 days of an urgent referral by a GP.

The charity Breast Cancer Now says significant progress has been made on breast cancer research over the decades but it is "not a done deal".

It estimates that 11,500 people a year in the UK die from the disease.

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