Published: 17:00, 24 April 2014
A mother has spoken of the heart-breaking moment she gave her dying daughter "permission" to pass away.
Beverley Cox was speaking after brave young mum Kayleigh Duff lost her battle with cancer.
Beverley said the 24-year-old of Herne Bay remained strong and even kept her sense of humour until the end.
She said of Kayleigh: "In her last couple of hours she was asking me to let her go, but I didn’t want to believe the time had come.
“But I gave her my permission, which is what she was waiting for.
"She was very brave and tried to stay positive for everyone else. If anyone had the right to crack it was her, but she didn’t.”
Beverley paid tribute to her “lovely, generous girl”, who will be remembered for her outspoken nature.
The 47-year-old said: “She was very stubborn and set in her ways. But she was sweet and friendly and would help anyone out. You wouldn’t think she was actually quite shy.
"She really came out of herself when she was with her friends, out clubbing in Canterbury.
“She was also a really good mum who would do anything for her son. It was a privilege being her mum and I wouldn’t have changed anything about her.”
Kayleigh, previously of Wye Green in Herne Bay, was cared for at the Pilgrims Hospice in Canterbury before returning to her mum’s home in Seasalter for her final two weeks.
Beverley said: “She had everyone around her, which is what she wanted. She was still talking up until a few hours before she died.”
As many as 14 close friends and family rallied round and, outspoken to the end, Kayleigh told each of them what she thought of them.
She also spent precious time with her three-year-old son Kai.
He will now be cared for by Beverley and money raised by well-wishers will be put into a trust fund for him when he is older.
Kayleigh, a former Frank Montgomery pupil, had lived with the threat of cancer since her father Lee died of the disease in 1998, aged just 37.
It was brought on by a rare gene defect which Kayleigh also carried and she had her bowel removed at the age of 16 as a precaution.
A cancerous ulcer was then removed from her colon in 2012 but her illness was deemed untreatable when tumours were found in her liver and brain.
Kayleigh’s death is the latest tragedy to hit the family, after Beverley lost her second husband Mick in a car accident in January 2012.
The grandmother-of-eight said: “I think it’s why I’m as strong as I am. You just have to get on with it.”
But Beverley did struggle to come to terms with her daughter’s illness, asking doctors not to tell her how long she was expected to live.
She said: “I didn’t want to be thinking ‘is this her last day?’.
"We knew it was serious but it was never spoken about. Even in her last days, I convinced myself she just had a chest infection.”
As Kayleigh’s illness took hold, her condition deteriorated – but her mum refused to give up hope.
She said: “The last few months were hard. She couldn’t walk or do anything for herself and started saying she’d had enough.
Since Kayleigh’s death, Beverley has taken comfort from the supportive messages the family has received.
They include one from The Dark Knight Rises actor Tom Hardy, who met Kayleigh for lunch last year and visited her earlier this month.
Beverley said: “He is such an amazing man. He and his girlfriend Charlotte are lovely, normal people, who genuinely cared.
"They kept in contact and were upset when they heard she’d passed away.
"It was really nice that she was able to meet him and do all the other things on her wishlist. It’s all thanks to friends and family.
"I gave her my permission, which is what she was waiting for" - Beverley Cox
“It was hard to look through all the messages at first, but now I’m looking at them with a smile on my face. I want to focus on the happy memories.”
Kayleigh’s funeral will take place at Barham Crematorium at 1.20pm on Friday, May 9, with a celebration at The Heron pub in Herne Bay afterwards.
Anyone who knew Kayleigh is invited to attend wearing an item of pink clothing and the family has asked for flowers or donations to the Pilgrims Hospice.
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