The Minister for Health has led the many tributes to the much loved and inspiring cervical cancer sufferer Laura Brennan, who has passed away today.
Simon Harris spoke in glowing terms of the young Clare woman who was just 26 years old having fought so bravely against the dreadful illness since December 2016.
Laura fronted several campaigns for the HSE and the World Health Organisation (WHO) encouraging young women to get vaccinated.
In a statement her family described her as ‘a wonderful daughter, sister and friend.’
Laura lost her fight today at University Hospital Limerick.
Her family said they are all “incredibly proud of the work she did in the last 18 months to help protect other young women like herself from the cancer that has taken her life today”.
“She wanted to make a difference, and use the time that she had to right what she felt was a great wrong” a family statement read.
Inspiring Laura moved to contact the HSE in 2017, and her brave selfless actions helped to increase uptake of the HPV vaccine has increased almost 20 percentage points, from 51% in 2017 to 70% today.
In March 2019, over 22,000 girls got the HPV vaccine to protect them from cervical cancer.
The family has appealed for privacy.
Minister Harris said: “I am deeply saddened to learn of Laura’s passing. Laura was an incredible young woman and a powerful campaigner. Despite her illness, she continued her advocacy and thanks in no small part to her sheer determination, the uptake of the HPV vaccine has increased among young women. The State owes her a debt of gratitude. “As a person, she was kind, funny and full of life. Her enthusiasm was infectious. Every time I met Laura or spoke with her, I was inspired by her. Amazing doesn’t do justice to her or her courage. I want to extend my deepest condolences to her family and friends.”
Anne O’Connor, Interim HSE Director General, also expressed her sincere condolences to the family and friends of Laura Brennan.
“Laura has contributed enormous time and energy campaigning to support HPV vaccination and preventing cervical cancer since March 2018,”
“We are all deeply saddened to learn of Laura’s death, and we feel immense gratitude and admiration for her and her family. Laura has defined courage and generosity as she supported our work to ensure girls get the HPV vaccine, and are protected from this terrible cancer.”
Laura’s strength and bravery were acknowledged by the head of the Irish Cancer Society.
Chief Executive Averil Power said: “On behalf of everyone at the Irish Cancer Society, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the Brennan family on the sad passing of their daughter and sister, Laura.
“In the past year Laura showed tremendous strength and bravery in talking about her cervical cancer. Her selfless honesty inspired us all. Through her steadfast determination she influenced parents to make an informed decision to give their daughters the HPV vaccine and protect them against an illness which was to take her life.
“Laura’s legacy is already clear. In many homes across the country, parents will have her to thank for saving their daughters’ lives.
“Through vaccination and the best possible screening programme for women, Ireland can potentially eliminate cervical cancer within a generation. In memory of Laura and her tireless work, we must work towards this goal with more determination than ever.”
We are all deeply saddened to learn of Laura Brennan’s death, and we send our deepest condolences to her family and friends. #ThankYouLaura for all you have done. https://t.co/iFpiQh7W6p pic.twitter.com/W8Rxd2aocv
— HSE Ireland (@HSELive) March 20, 2019
"I wish the vaccine had been available to me, of course I do. Don’t get swayed by rumours about the vaccine’s safety – get the vaccine" Watch Laura Brennan's story. #ProtectOurFuture pic.twitter.com/ZgYem3i6TY
— HSE Ireland (@HSELive) March 18, 2019
It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the death of women’s health advocate Laura Brennan. She showed great strength and bravery in supporting the health and lives of women in Ireland. Our thoughts are with Laura Brennan’s family and friends at this difficult time. #RIP
— Womenscouncilireland (@NWCI) March 20, 2019