Tue, 25 Jul 2017
A NEWBURY mum is supporting the Dignity in Dying campaign to allow terminally-ill people to control their own death, after her daughter died from terminal brain cancer.
Christine Eeley has described how she watched helplessly as Isobel Kennerley, 33, begged her for help as her health deteriorated in her last days.
Mrs Eeley said: “It’s the lack of dignity that is so distressing.
“At the end she couldn’t move, eat or speak but still had mental capacity. She was in agony and I could do nothing.
“She wanted the choice to die. I would have borrowed the money to take her to Dignitas [the Swiss organisation that provides assisted suicide to the terminally ill], but it was difficult to judge the right time before she was too weak to travel.“
Mrs Eeley intends to open a Newbury-based Dignity in Dying group, as the most local one is currently in Reading.
She said: “I think the Reading one will be more focused on Reading-based cases, so I want to do something more local in Newbury.”
Mrs Kennerley was a teaching assistant at St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury, and also worked with autistic children.
She had a degree in educational practice and had ambitions to study for a masters degree specialising in autistic studies, but had to give up her dream as she was in so much pain.
Mrs Kennerley was born with cerebral palsy which affected her left side.
She developed a brain tumour, which was also on the left side and which started to affect the right side – but her illness failed to dampen her spirits.
Her mother said: “She was very, very strong. Determined and braver than you can imagine.
“Her view was ‘I’m OK today. I can do this’.”
Weeks before her death, and five days before she was admitted to the Duchess of Kent Hospice, Mrs Kennerley was awarded the Woman of Courage category of the Sue Ryder Woman of Achievement Awards.
She was in a wheelchair when she collected the award.
Mrs Eeley said: “At the award ceremony she couldn’t eat and she knew she didn’t have long.”
After being admitted to the Duchess of Kent Hospice her health took a turn for the worse.
She was given three days to live, but survived for seven weeks, before losing her battle on May 4.
Mrs Eeley said: “Her heart and lungs were strong, but the cancer stopped her body doing all the stuff that comes from the brain and eventually breathing became difficult.
“Sue Ryder were fantastic, but as her suffering increased I begged them to give her something, just a little bit extra, but of course they couldn’t.”
Mrs Kennerley’s husband Scott is “lost without his girl”, Mrs Eeley said.
“He adored her. Worshipped the ground she walked on. He called her the Queen of Awesomeness,” she added.
“He is trying to cope and deal with it day to day.”
Dignity in Dying is a campaign to change UK law, to allow dying people with six months or less to live the option to control their death.