02:49PM, Thursday 22 August 2019
A devastated brother hopes to raise awareness of genetic cancer risk after losing his father, brother and twin sister to pancreatic cancer.
On Sunday, Heidi Dance passed away aged 49, leaving behind her two children, Cally, 29, and Jody, 23.
Heidi’s death comes just four months after her brother Rene Dance, a Maidenhead Rugby Club legend, died aged 51.
Their father Michael Dance also died from the condition aged 74 in 2011, but it was only after Heidi’s diagnosis in January that doctors realised there was a genetic link.
Heidi’s twin brother Jody has paid tribute to his ‘bubbly and outgoing’ sister as he hopes to raise awareness of how cancer can affect families.
He said: “I’ll give it to her, she lived her life right to the end. She never really let it get her down, she just carried on smiling.”
“She probably had dark moments but she really took the bull by the horns and got on with her life.
“When you lose two big characters in your family, it leaves a huge hole.”
Heidi Dance with her two children, Cally, 29 and Jody, 23.
Last month, Heidi and Jody celebrated their 49th birthdays together but, at that point, he could sense the end was close.
“She kept talking about getting to our 50th birthday next year, said Jody. “But deep down I knew that was unlikely.
“When we saw the writing was on the wall, she wanted us to take her home. When she got there she said she was home for good.”
Heidi spent her whole life living in the Dance family home in Waltham St Lawrence and was a popular manageress at the Shurlock Inn, Shurlock Row, for many years.
“She had that gift of the gab,” said Jody. “Everybody knew Heidi, she was bubbly and outgoing.”
Jody also praised Heidi’s partner of 10 months, Steve Holland.
He said: “He has been an angel. He came along just before she was diagnosed. He was there all the way.
“It’s almost like an angel came along. He’s gutted, he can’t believe it. They were talking about marriage.”
The Dance family (L to R): Jody, Heidi, Lori and Kylie.
It has now been established that Heidi and Rene had inherited a gene which increased their risk of getting pancreatic cancer.
Jody and the rest of his family are now set to get checks, and he has urged people with family members with cancer to do the same.
He said: “As soon as Rene got it, we kept saying ‘could this be genetic?’
“Most of the oncologists said it was just unlucky. Then when Heidi got it she had genetic tests and there was a mutation.
“You should push it and get checked, because if you don’t you are just going to become another statistic.”
Those who knew Heidi are welcome to attend her funeral at Waltham St Lawrence Parish Church, Halls Lane, on Friday, September 6 at 12.30pm.
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