Lives Remembered

Laura Brennan: 'Amazing doesn't do justice to her courage'

Laura Brennan was a tireless campaigner for the HPV vaccine, including on The Late Late Show. Picture from RTÉ

LAURA Brennan's legacy will be to save the lives of other young women from the devastating cancer that claimed her own.

The 26-year-old from Hillview in Co Clare was a tireless campaigner for the HPV vaccine which can protect against cervical cancer.

After receiving a terminal diagnosis in 2017, she contacted the Republic's health service saying she wanted to try to help others.

“This illness is devastating and it’s going to take my life but the good news is there’s a vaccine that you can get that prevents it. HPV caused my cancer. I just wanted parents to know there is an alternative.” she said.

The vaccine, administered in schools, protects against several strains of the Human Papilloma Virus which cause around three-quarters of cervical cancers.

Uptake had been falling due to concerns raised about possible side effects - claims strongly refuted by public health officials.

But since Laura spoke out, uptake has surged from just 51 per cent that year to 70 per cent today.

Health minister Simon Harris said "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."

Anne O'Connor of the Health Service Executive also said she "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 own family described her as "a light in the life of everyone who knew her; a wonderful daughter, sister and friend".

“We 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.

“Laura used her voice, her generosity and her energy to help parents to make informed choices and protect their daughters from cervical cancer.

“She wanted to make a difference, and use the time that she had to right what she felt was a great wrong.”

Laura Brennan died on Wednesday at University Hospital Limerick.

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Lives Remembered