Turning personal heartache into public awareness

Kristin to talk about changing lives, one boob at a time

Date posted

14 January 2020

11:18

A young woman whose breast cancer diagnosis inspired her to launch the life-saving CoppaFeel! charity is to tell her story to an Edinburgh Napier audience.

Kristin Hallenga was only 23 when she was told she had the disease, which later spread to her liver, her bones and her brain.

However, her horror at the news rapidly gave way to a determination to spread the message that catching cancer early gives you a greater chance of survival and recovery.

Kris founded breast cancer awareness charity CoppaFeel! with her twin sister Maren in 2009, and its creative campaigns encouraging young women to be more vigilant about their health have been winning accolades ever since.

She will discuss her journey in the latest in the Chancellor Talk series at Edinburgh Napier University, entitled How to Glitter a Turd, on the evening of Wednesday 29 January.

The series is the brainchild of the university’s Chancellor, David Eustace, who first attended Edinburgh Napier in his late 20s and used his degree as a platform to build a career as an award-winning photographer and creative consultant.

Dr Eustace, who will introduce Kris on the night, launched the series of events in 2016 with the aim of giving students, staff and the wider community access to high-profile people whose talent and drive had “made a real difference to our world”.

Portrait of Kristin Hallenga

Kris Hallenga’s doctor had originally dismissed a tumour on her breast as “hormonal” leading to a late diagnosis, which was followed swiftly by chemotherapy to shrink the cancer, then a mastectomy.

CoppaFeel! was born just two months after the diagnosis, while she was still undergoing treatment, as she began campaigning to reduce the incidence of late detection.

Her London-based charity stresses there is no such thing as “too young for cancer”, and encourages teenagers and twentysomethings to check their breasts.

Its cheeky humour and eye-catching publicity stunts have made their mark. Kris, who was awarded a Pride of Britain award in 2009, has carried out awareness work at universities, music festivals, schools and workplaces, and spearheaded high-profile campaigns like What Normal Feels Like and Cheknominate, the charity’s PR initiatives often involving the use of giant inflatable ‘boob’ costumes.

Celebrities who have supported CoppaFeel! include Lorraine Kelly, Mel B, Fearne Cotton, Dermot O’Leary and Dannii Minogue.

Kris, now 34 and living with stage four breast cancer, said she was very much looking forward to her evening in Edinburgh. “I can’t think of a better excuse to come and visit one of my favourite cities in the world! This will be my first talk in Edinburgh, and I’m excited to share my story.

“I think the idea for Chancellor Talks, and the fact that they are free and accessible to anyone, is awesome.”

Dr David Eustace said: “There are few things more upsetting than hearing about a young person being diagnosed with a life-changing illness, and I am very much looking forward to meeting Kris and hearing first-hand how she has used this horrendous experience to inspire campaigns which will make a difference to the lives of countless others.”

Admission to the Wednesday January 29 talk is free but please register here for the event at the Craiglockhart Campus’s Lindsay Stewart Lecture Theatre. Doors open at 6pm and the event begins at 6.30pm, and is followed by a drinks reception.