RELATIVES of a young woman, who died of cancer just months after losing her father to the disease, have set up a charity in her memory.
Victoria Van Der Westhuizen was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer on November 13, and died two months later on January 13.
More than 400 people packed into All Saints’ Church, in Odiham, for the funeral of the 29-year-old, in the same church where she married her husband CJ just 13 months earlier.
Victoria had been raising funds for St Michael’s Hospice, in Basingstoke, where her father, David Eastman, was treated for cerebral lymphoma. She used her wedding reception to generate £3,000, by holding an open bar in return for donations.
David was able to accompany his daughter on her big day, but died just a month later in January 2013, aged 69.
Victoria, a make-up artist and model, vowed to start a charity to support victims of cancer, having also lost her grandmother to cancer as a child and seeing her mother, Fiona Eastman, battle bowel cancer.
Her brother Alex Eastman, 26, said: “She knew that she wanted to find ways of helping people through it. But she barely had a chance to get her head together from losing dad when she was facing cancer herself.
“She said: ‘I’m going to battle it and beat it’. She promised she was going to make a difference in other people’s lives. I promised her we would do that.”
It was this conversation, while Victoria was being treated at The London Clinic, which sparked the idea for the Victoria’s Promise charity.
Alex, CJ and Fiona have since set up the charity in memory of Victoria, and will donate some of the funds to research by Victoria’s oncologist, Professor Justin Stebbing, to find cures for complex cancers.
The family already has plans to hold a Victoria Sponge Bake on June 14 – the date Victoria would have turned 30.
Paying tribute to his sister, Alex said: “She was very warm, friendly and fun loving. She was always laughing. She made people feel relaxed and good about themselves. People gravitated towards her – they loved her company.”
Victoria, who grew up in Winchfield and attended Robert May’s School, in Odiham, lived just a few doors away from her mother in Hook.
In a moving tribute at Victoria’s funeral, Fiona said: “In days to come, I will perhaps be able to put into words all that my darling girl meant to me – maybe it was more than words will ever say. But she is in my heart and I know through the deep understanding that we shared, that she knows what she meant to me. And that is all that matters.
“I was blessed to give birth to her, blessed to be with her throughout every step of her life, and blessed to be holding her when she left us.”
CJ, 29, added: “There are so many things you taught me Vix, and I know I’ll never get over you. I know I’ll never get over the fact you picked me to be the love of your life. I know I’ll never forget how happy we made each other over the last seven years. You gave me the opportunity to experience true love, and for that I will be eternally grateful.”
For more information on Victoria’s Promise, go to victoriaspromise.com.