Tuesday 27 September 2016

Tributes for 'beautiful, kind' young blogger who dies after cancer battle

Published 26/04/2016 | 08:25

Leona Reid
Leona Reid
Leona and her boyfriend Jordon

Friends have paid tribute to a "beautiful, intelligent, kind and fun" young woman who has died after a brave battle with cancer.

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Leona Reid, from Drumahoe, passed away on April 15 after tragically losing her battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The student was diagnosed last summer, just before she was due to start her final year of a degree in law and Spanish at the University of Dundee.

Before her illness, Leona was heavily involved in student life and worked as the fashion editor and later deputy editor for the university's student magazine, the Magdalen.

The former Foyle and Derry College pupil kept writing throughout her illness, publishing her thoughts and feelings on a blog called Leona Elizabeth: A girl with a passion for life and all things beautiful.

She took some time away from university to receive treatment for her cancer, but she posted on her website that she was determined to return to her studies, and thanked her parents, Janice and Stephen, brother Craig and boyfriend Jordon for their invaluable support.

"I've been extremely blessed throughout my life with friends and family, they are the most important thing to me," the brave student wrote.

"I have an amazing boyfriend Jordon who has been crazy supportive throughout everything and basically I just count myself very lucky."

In January, even when she was seriously ill, Leona was determined to remain positive, posting a photo from her hospital bed with the words: "All you need is a wig and a touch of lipstick."

In her final blog post, at the end of February, she described her joy at being allowed to leave hospital to return to her Drumahoe home.

"Day to day life isn't always the easiest, but I have to attest to the truth in the saying 'there's no place like home'," Leona wrote.

"Of course I am beyond grateful for all the help and support I received in the ward, but being at home has done wonders for my stress levels.

"In hospital I would find myself descending into panic mode for no apparent reason - it would just come out of nowhere.

"Obviously I still have my moments where I feel vulnerable and helpless, but they are soon overridden by the sense of safety I have being in my own environment and most importantly, being with my family."

In a funeral announcement, Leona's family said she would be "missed more than words can say".

Following the student's death, friends paid tribute on social media and shared their memories of her life.

Lucy Ellen McGonigle posted: "Such a beautiful, intelligent, kind and fun young lady. She was an absolute credit to the love from both her Mum and Dad. May she rest in peace now that her suffering is over."

Shirley McCabe added: "My heartfelt sympathy to Leona's family and friends. She was a very brave and admirable young lady."

Dominic Younger, Dundee University Students Association vice-president of communications and campaigns, said: "As her own blog stated, Leona was a girl with a passion for life and all things beautiful.

"She was a truly gifted student, and through her time as fashion editor and then deputy editor of our sister publication, the Magdalen, she brought endless fun and wit to her peers.

"She was heartbreakingly taken before her time.

"Leona will be terribly missed by all who had the pleasure to know her.

"She was an incredible soul and a wise sage when it came to writing. She will forever be a source of inspiration."

Leona's friends and family came together to remember her life at a service at Ebrington Presbyterian Church last week after a cremation ceremony at Roselawn cemetery.

Leona’s blog: ‘The chemo may or may not work, but we live in hope’

Today is the day I’ve decided to take a little piece of the world wide web and make it my own...

I am currently typing from the sublime comfort of the hospital bed where I’ve been residing for quite some time now.

Long story short, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in September and after countless complications and difficult decisions, I have been switched to a different type of chemotherapy. It may or may not work but we continue to live in hope.

You may think now an odd time to begin such an endeavour as a blog, but there’s no time like the present and this is something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while now.

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