Identical Twins, Identical Cause
Identical Twins, Identical Cause
Marin and Kris Hallenga
By Leora Eisen  

Last week, popular cancer awareness advocate Kris Hallenga urged British parliamentarians to put cancer education on the school curriculum. It was just the latest step in the vivacious 28-year-old’s mission to make a difference in other young people’s lives. (read the news story)

Kris has become a familiar face in the UK media. But if you see her, don’t be surprised if you need to do a double take; her clone is often standing right beside her.

The Hallenga twins on a shoot for 'Two of a Kind'

Kris and Maren are identical twins who have similar giggles, body language, and beautiful blonde hair. But there’s one crucial difference:  at 23, Kris was diagnosed with incurable stage 4 breast cancer.

“There’s no one who truly feels the pain as much as you do than your twin,” says Kris. "I don’t mean physical pain, but just the idea of having it and potential of losing that person you’re closest with….other relationships don’t even come close.”

Maren has watched her twin endure chemo, radiation and a mastectomy, as well as surgery on her brain and her spine to remove tumours.  But Kris refuses to let cancer  define her.  Two months after her diagnosis, she and Maren founded Coppafeel, an innovative charity which encourages young people to check their breasts for lumps. 

The Hallenga twins will be featured in two fascinating documentaries about twins airing this fall. On CBC’s The Nature of Things, prominent UK geneticist Dr. Tim Spector reveals the exciting new research that explains why one identical twin has cancer while the other is perfectly healthy.  In the documentary channel film, Kris and Maren tell director and fellow identical twin Leora Eisen how a life-threatening diagnosis affects their relationship, a situation Leora understands all too well.

Read more about Kris and Maren’s campaign to raise breast cancer awareness at Coppafeel.org.

Find out more about King's College professor Tim Spector’s twins research and his book Identically Different: Why You Can Change Your Genes

Learn more about the “Two of a Kind” project, produced by 90th Parallel Productions.

The films will air on The Nature of Things and the documentary channel this fall. 
 

Also on CBC