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Gravesend mum with Angelina Jolie BRCA cancer gene dies days before 30th birthday


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A mum with a rare cancer gene has died just days before she was due to celebrate her 30th birthday.

Rebecca Gardiner had the BRCA cancer mutation like Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie and had a double mastectomy.

Rebecca Gardiner has died of cancer, aged 29
Rebecca Gardiner has died of cancer, aged 29

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, when she was just 24, and had the operation after undergoing chemotherapy to shrink the tumour.

The mum to Amber, 10, and Jessica, seven, was then in remission. But the cancer came back in 2020. This time it was in her spine, her bones and her liver.

Rebecca, from Northfleet, set her sights on celebrating her 30th birthday, which would have been today (Monday), but she didn’t make it. She died on Wednesday last week, five days before her milestone.

Rebecca had planned a party at Viewpoint Community Centre in Gravesend. Now her family are planning her funeral.

Mum Amanda Blong has set up a fundraising page to help with the funeral costs and also help Rebecca’s husband Ian over Christmas. It has already raised more than £2,800.

She said: “We want to do this for Rebecca, but we also want to raise awareness of the BRCA gene and our family history. We have been going through this for 10 years. We’ve been through so much.”

Rebecca and family on her wedding day in 2017. l-r brother Warren, mum Amanda, husband Ian, Rebecca, dad Andrew and brother Alan, in front; daughters Amber and Jessica
Rebecca and family on her wedding day in 2017. l-r brother Warren, mum Amanda, husband Ian, Rebecca, dad Andrew and brother Alan, in front; daughters Amber and Jessica

Rebecca’s dad Andrew and younger brother also have the so-called ‘cancer gene’.

Mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes raise your cancer risk. Having a variant BRCA gene greatly increases a woman's chance of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Rebecca’s brother Alan was diagnosed with leukaemia when he was just 15. He survived and is now 26.

Rebecca was told her cancer was terminal, but friend Michele Simmons said she didn’t want to know how long she had left, she just wanted to focus on enjoying the time she had.

Michele set up a donation page to help Rebecca and her family make some precious memories together.

Writing on the fundraising page, Rebecca said: “We're very much all about making memories and enjoying what we can, and due to my own reasons I don’t want to know my prognosis unless I absolutely have to know. So I don't know how long I've got. This may be the only birthday milestone I can reach.”

Rebecca Gardiner aged four
Rebecca Gardiner aged four

The page raised almost £2,000 and the family were able to go to the Harry Potter studios and enjoy a weekend away.

Rebecca, who went to Northfleet School for Girls, worked as a dispenser at Lloyds Pharmacy in Vale Road.

Her mum described her as “a beautiful soul who would always reach out to help everyone else”.

She added: “Rebecca always had the biggest smile in the room and was the heart and soul of any occasion.

“You would always know when Rebecca was around, as you could always hear her contagious laugh.

“She was an amazing mum to her girls and wife to her husband, always making sure they had a smile on their faces.”

Rebecca Gardiner with mum Amanda on her hen do
Rebecca Gardiner with mum Amanda on her hen do

To donate to Amanda's page, click here.

Friend Michele is also still collecting for the family here.

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