Mum from Royston with cancer dies during fundraising campaign for treatment

Leah O'Connell pictured with husband Colm and son Seth. Picture: O'Connell family

Leah O'Connell pictured with husband Colm and son Seth. Picture: O'Connell family - Credit: Archant

A mother from Royston, who was crowdfunding for life-extending drugs after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, has died aged 34.

Leah O’Connell – who grew up in the town and studied at Studlands Rise, Greneway and Meridian schools – was diagnosed with the disease in September 2016 while pregnant with her son, Seth.

She had been having gruelling treatment – including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery – ever since the diagnosis, because she wanted to spend as much time as possible with husband Colm and 18-month-old Seth.

The drugs she needed showed great promise in trials and had to be privately funded as they were not licensed for breast cancer.

Within the first 24 hours of crowdfunding, more than 320 people donated almost £22,000 to support Leah’s treatment – and the total has now passed the £65,000 mark.

Leah’s family have updated her JustGiving page with the sad news of her passing, which happened on June 20.

They said: “We are very sorry to have to let everyone know that Leah sadly passed away on Wednesday, before we could use the funds to help her as we had hoped.

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“She developed a rare and dangerous complication that caused her to go downhill very rapidly.

“As everyone who knew her will know, she faced her disease with courage and strength. Your amazing generosity lifted us all, including Leah, at the darkest of times and showed how many people loved and cared for her.

“She was wonderful, warm, funny and kind and we will always miss her more than words can say.

“We plan to divide the money equally between Seth’s future and Cancer Research UK, to aid the fight against this awful disease. This is what we think Leah would have wanted.”

Before she died, Leah’s family were organising a fundraising ball for July 21 at Stansted Airport’s Radisson Blu Hotel, and say this will still go ahead.

They continued: “The ball will still go ahead in her memory next month, as we think she would have wished. She would definitely have wanted everyone to have a good time!”

For more on the Midsummer Masquerade ball go to and for Leah’s fundraising page go to