Inspirational Derry cancer battling mother who charted journey in her online blog dies at age of 36
A young woman who amassed thousands of followers while blogging about her "rollercoaster" cancer journey has passed away.
Mother-of-three Lesley Kennedy (36) from Maydown had been charting her journey with the disease for the last two years on her 'Terminally Fabulous Darling' Facebook page.
Through her posts, photos and videos, she brought her thousands of followers into the hospital wards as she received chemotherapy and into her home as she dealt with the aftermath, and opened her heart in her darkest moments.
She revealed her heartache, shared her victories, relished her good days and didn't hold back on her bad days.
Her trademark photo that gave so many on the same journey hope and courage was of her in her hospital bed, in full make-up and bright red lipstick.
Yesterday her husband Lee posted a heartbreaking message to her nearly 4,000 followers announcing her death.
"I am sorry to inform that our angel Lesley has now gained her wings and is in heaven with her Granny and Grandad," he wrote.
"The boys and I are totally devastated but she wanted you all to know that she met some great friends on this page and took great comfort from the help, advice and comments she received from you all on her journey against his horrible illness.
"She battled this horrible illness with dignity and pride till the very end like the warrior she was and took great strength from the support on her page."
Lesley's often heartbreaking updates sparked outpourings of love and support.
Her followers, many of them strangers, some of them on their own cancer journeys, were always there with virtual hugs and positive affirmations to keep going when challenges arose and were there cheering her on when things went right.
Lesley and Lee have three sons Ben (15), Jake (11) and Corey (9). She was diagnosed with stage two oestrogen-positive (ER+) breast cancer when she was 32 years old.
She was told she would need a mastectomy.
The young mum spent 2015 undergoing surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapy.
The following year, after developing a severe pain in her ribs, doctors discovered that the cancer had spread to her liver, lungs and bones. She was told that her cancer was terminal and that only palliative chemo would be offered.
Desperate to stay around for as long as she could for her boys, Lesley set about researching a radical treatment that would give her more time. SIRT is an internal-targeted radiotherapy treatment, not carried out on the NHS for breast cancer patients.
She fought hard to raise money to access treatment to save her life.
She set up a JustGiving page and began fundraising for the £25,000 to have the treatment done privately at the Christie Clinic in Manchester.
After appeals in the Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life the public responded generously and she reached the target within a week, enabling her to have life-prolonging treatment and more time with her boys and husband.
Lesley said that it was while researching and fundraising for her SIRT treatment that she set up her Terminally Fabulous Darling page to let those who got behind her know how her treatment was going.
In her usual witty way, she changed the name of the page to 'Terminally T*ts Up and Fabulous Darling' last year, after treatments stopped working.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last year, she said her family were her "rocks" that carried her through life, no matter how hard things got.
"What carries me through this journey is my family," she said.
"It absolutely breaks my heart when I look at my children and think that they will be left without a mummy. No child should have to grow up without their mummy.
"My hope for the future is to live as long as I can. To be able to have the strength to carry me through it and be fortunate enough to try new treatments.
"I want to create as many good memories with my husband and children as I possibly can. You've got to get up, dress up and never ever give up and remember to live for the moment - your life is not a trial run, live it to the full."
Lesley's funeral will take place tomorrow in St Canice's Parish Church in Eglinton at 3pm.