Isobel Kennerley, a childhood friend of Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, has died after a three-year battle against a brain tumor.
She was only 34.
Kennerley, who was a member of Kate’s Brownie pack, tragically suffered “utmost pain” and dignity in recent years, according to her family.
Her mother, Christine Eeley, hopes Isobel’s passing will ultimately result in a change in the nation’s law to enable terminally ill patients.
Those who are terminally ill should be be able to “control the manner and the timing” of their deaths, says the 65-year-old mother-of-two.
“Isobel became trapped in her body … She couldn’t move a muscle, couldn’t eat and couldn’t speak at the end.”
“She was bedridden for so long that she developed huge hideous, stinking bedsores on her back and buttocks.”
“She cried out endlessly in pain and when she was able to mumble a few words, begged her husband and me every single day to help her to die.”
Isobel, who had cerebral palsy, met Kate and her sister Pippa Middleton, in 1990, when they joined the 1st St Andrew’s pack of Brownies.
The trio slept in camp bunk beds in old RAF buildings, set in 17 acres at Macaroni Wood, in the Cotswolds, where they fed chickens.
Along with the other girls, they collected eggs, watched chicks hatch, bottle-fed lambs and kid goats and went for horse-and-cart rides.
“I really enjoyed it,” Isobel recalled later, adding that the Middletons and everyone were “really kind to me because I have a disability.”
“I remember going to Brownie camp at Macaroni Wood and coming back to find an owl at the end of my bed. I don’t remember what I did to deserve it.”
“I remember feeling really pleased.”
After Brownies, Kate and Isobel’s paths diverged as the two girls went to different schools, but those memories are vivid and lasting.
Isobel went onto become a teaching assistant at Newbury’s St. Bartholomew’s School, specializing in caring for autistic children.
It was while she was at Newbury College that she would meet her future husband Scott Kennerley, 33, who was working at a local hotel.
The couple married in 2010, and she had begun to work toward a Master’s Degree. Yet four years later, Isobel fell seriously ill.
“She started to get pains in the left-hand side of her body,” said her mother Eeley, who also has a son Alexander, 37.
“We all thought it was her cerebral palsy. She was really struggling. She gradually had to be in a manual wheelchair and then in a power chair.”
“We went back to the GP time and time again but nobody got to the bottom of what was causing her pain. In the end I insisted we saw a neurologist.”
Isobel was diagnosed with the tumor at Reading’s Royal Berkshire Hospital in September 2014, after being given an MRI scan.
It was discovered, after having a biopsy, that she discovered she had a Grade IV glioblastoma and there was no cure for it.
“We were just devastated,” her mother said. “You never imagine that your child will die before you. But Isobel was so brave.”
“She faced it head on.”
Over the next year, Isobel had six weeks of daily chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment before undergoing another six months of chemo.
That succeeded in shrinking the tumor, but by August last year she was unable to walk as her condition began to deteriorate.
She was awarded this year’s Sue Ryder Southern Woman of Courage Award for her bravery in fighting through the ordeal.
In March she went into Reading’s Sue Ryder Hospice where she was given days to live; Isobel lived another seven weeks.
“Isobel was the bravest girl imaginable,” said her mother.
“She was born with cerebral palsy and was paralyzed down the left side of her body, but she always pushed herself beyond her physical limits. “
“She never ever complained about what life had thrown at her and, even as a child and after many operations to help her mobility.”
“She just smiled her way through life.”