Cancer blog Derry mum Lesley Kennedy lived life to the full, mourners told
Hundreds of people packed into a tiny Londonderry church yesterday to pay their final respects to inspirational 'cancer warrior' Lesley Kennedy.
The 36-year-old mother of three, from Maydown, had amassed an online following of thousands after charting her journey with cancer on her 'Terminally Fabulous Darling' Facebook page.
Over the past two years followers had loved and laughed at her witty style of explaining what was going on in the hospital wards as she underwent chemotherapy for breast cancer, and in her home as she dealt with the aftermath, and cried with her as she opened her heart to them in her darkest moments.
Mourners yesterday celebrated her life during a poignant service at St Canice's Parish Church in Eglinton, many of them having to listen to the service through loudspeakers in the grounds outside, such were the numbers in attendance.
Inside the church, as a framed photograph of a smiling Lesley sat atop her white wicker coffin, the Rev Canon Paul Hoey told mourners that she was a strong spirited, beautiful person who "packed a lot into her too short life".
"She certainly was one of life's go-getters," he told the congregation.
"She was determined to take life by the scruff of the neck and live it to the full. She made things happen. She made every day a precious gift.
"Even as a child she knew what she wanted to achieve and she wasn't going to let anything get in her way. She kept that attitude through her life.
"The date of her death was significant, the Fourth of July. For she had a fiercely independent spirit. Whenever she felt something was right, nothing would deflect her from it and no one would stand in the way of her getting it."
After finding out her illness was terminal in 2016, Lesley set about researching a radical treatment that would give her more time.
She fundraised £25,000 for SIRT, a targeted radiotherapy treatment not carried out on the NHS for breast cancer patients.
"I think we know had she not insisted against advice in getting extra treatment for her illness in England that she might not have had those extra few years that have been so special for her, for her family and her friends," said Rev Hoey.
He told mourners that Lesley's motto was "Get up, dress up and never give up" and that the challenges faced by her, her husband Lee and sons Ben, Jake and Corey, are more than any family should face in a lifetime.
"The Belfast Telegraph article on Saturday was right when it described Lesley as an inspirational woman who touched so many lives," Rev Hoey said.
"I think the picture of her that many of us have is the one sitting on top of her coffin here. Her big smile and her lipstick on, looking so good and full of vitality, just larger than life.
"If you knew Lesley you will never forget her."
Following the service of thanksgiving, Lesley was buried at Ballyoan Cemetery.