Jade Goody, the British reality TV star whose battle against cancer had been followed around the world, has died.
She passed away in her sleep early Sunday – Mother’s Day in the U.K.
Max Clifford, her publicist and friend, confirmed the news to PEOPLE. “She had been pretty much asleep for the last 24 hours,” he says, adding she died “just before 4 o’clock this morning.”
Her husband Jack Tweed – who she married in a ceremony filmed by a British TV channel in February – and mother Jackiey Budden were at her bedside, Clifford adds.
Clifford says Budden told him, “My beautiful daughter has gone to sleep, has gone,” when they spoke soon afterwards.
He adds, “Jackiey is obviously as you would expect a mom to be at the loss of her daughter. We’ve all known it was coming but she’s devastated.”
Goody, 27, rose to fame on the British version of the reality show Big Brother in 2002, and was rarely out of the British newspapers and gossip magazines in the years that followed. But her story went global when she discovered she was suffering from cervical cancer – while appearing on the India version of the reality show in August.
Then, in February, she learned that the disease had spread and she only had a short time to live. Since then, her achievement has been to raise awareness of her cancer and how prevention could help others, Clifford said.
He adds, “Her legacy will be that a lot of women owe their lives to Jade Goody because of her public announcement and battle against cervical cancer,” which has led to increased knowledge of it and the screening necessary to catch it.
“She has captured the hearts and minds of people all over the world, from Australia to America and everywhere else.”
Very Public Life
Goody lived so much of her life in the public eye – no more so than in the last few months when her wedding was televised and photos sold to a magazine. That was followed by her recent baptism in the hospital with her sons Bobby, 5, and Freddy, 4, at her side.
Shortly after the ceremony, Goody headed home to Upshire, Essex, where her battle ended early Sunday.
In a few months, a book about her last months is set to be published.