A FORMER British dance champion with a rare debilitating disease which left her trapped inside her own body has lost her battle for life.
Isabelle Latham fought multiple system astrophy (MSA) for more than a year.
The mum-of-three became wheelchair-bound due to the condition which caused her to lose co-ordination, balance, and strength.
Six weeks ago, grandmother-of-five, Isabelle, 57, developed pneumonia and was admitted to Sunderland Royal Hospital, before being transferred to St Benedict’s Hospice, Ryhope, where she died last Friday.
Daughter Catherine Herron, 33, of Silksworth, said her mum, who was named British senior tap champion when she was 16, was an “inspiration” throughout her struggle with the disease.
“She showed so much strength of character and always had a smile on her face when friends and family visited,” she said.
“Her grandchildren were unable to visit mam in hospital, so when she moved to the hospice we were able to take them, and this made her so happy and gave her the boost to make it through Christmas and new year.
“We, her children, knew how poorly she was, but even then she was so strong, and never discussed what was happening.”
Isabelle was frustrated at the lack of knowledge about the rare disease, and set about raising money and awareness.
At an event held at Lakeside Sports and Social Club, in July, she managed to raise £1,500 for the MSA Trust.
“Our mam was overwhelmed with the love and support people showed to her on her charity night in July,” said Catherine, who helped to organised the event with sister Ashley Latham, 32, of Silksworth.
“It meant the world to her to see friends from her past and present – some who she hadn’t seen since childhood. It really gave her the strength to keep on fighting.”
She added: “She gave the performance of her life over the past six months, more so over these past six weeks.”
A funeral for Isabelle, also mum to Anthony Duane, 32, of Silksworth, will take place next Wednesday, at St Matthew’s Church, Silksworth, at 2.15pm.
A service will follow at Sunderland Crematorium.