‘She was a light’: Emotional tributes paid as HPV campaigner Laura Brennan passes away
“Laura was a light in the life of everyone who knew her; a wonderful daughter, sister and friend. We are lost without her.”
Beautiful words said tonight from Laura Brennan’s family as they mourn a world that is darkened without her.
The news of her passing came suddenly on Wednesday evening and has deeply shocked and saddened so many. She was just 26-years-old.
Laura Brennan was on 24-years-old when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer stage 2B at just 24. Since her diagnoses, she has tirelessly devoted her time and energy – despite battling her own illness – to raising awareness of the HPV vaccine and urging young women to participate in the CervicalCheck screening programme, despite its recent controversies.
Related: ‘Do not ignore this’: Vicky Phelan urges women to listen to their bodies
“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’s family said in a statement.
“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.”
“I have no words”
#ThankYouLaura has been trending on social media for hours as those who knew the young Clare woman pay tribute to her wonderful advocacy and the remarkable impact she had – and continues to have – on the women of Ireland.
Campaigner Vicky Phelan said that she had “no words”.
“I am only now finding out about Laura’s death. I have no words, just tears and emptiness at the loss of another young woman who used what was left of her time to campaign so that others would NOT suffer her fate. Please, please vaccinate your children,” she wrote on Twitter.
#ThankYouLaura I am only now finding out about Laura’s death. I have no words, just tears & emptiness at the loss of another young woman who used what was left of her time to campaign so that others would NOT suffer her fate. Please, please vaccinate your children #HPVvaccine https://twitter.com/HSELive/status/1108416465718394880
— Vicky Phelan (@PhelanVicky) March 20, 2019
“Laura Brennan was one of those extraordinary people who shine brightly and make friends easily with whoever they meet by sheer force of personality and natural kindness,” said Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy, who had interviewed Laura on the show. Her appearance touched a chord with so many viewers.
It was with great sadness we learned of the passing of Laura Brennan. We were honoured to have this incredible young woman share her story and message on the show last year. #ThankYouLaura pic.twitter.com/QfYrMbOIz6
— The Late Late Show (@RTELateLateShow) March 20, 2019
Simon Harris also paid tribute to Laura, whose efforts as an HSE ambassador saw an almost 20% uptake in the HPV vaccine.
— Department of Health (@roinnslainte) March 20, 2019
Since Laura first contacted the HSE in 2017, the uptake of the vaccine increased from 51% that year, to 70% today. RIP to a young woman who left a huge, life-saving legacy. #ThankYouLaurahttps://t.co/Me8eG7x3WT
— Maria Flannery (@mariaflan) March 20, 2019
Many more have expressed their sense of loss as a beloved, selfless young woman has been taken, far too young and far too soon.
We’ve lost an incredible person – & I’ve lost my best friend. My heart is shattered, but so proud to been part of her life. She’s changed not just Ireland but the world. Please heed her words; the #HPVvaccine saves lives. For more than I can ever say, #ThankYouLaura xx pic.twitter.com/dPxE8DDmIH
— David Robert Grimes (@drg1985) March 20, 2019
#ThankYouLaura, my deepest condolences to Laura’s family. Such an incredible loss, Laura leaves a huge legacy behind in her work on promoting #HPVvaccine which will in turn save so many lives. We are all indebted to her. RIP @laura_jbrennan https://twitter.com/HSELive/status/1108416465718394880
— Stephen Teap (@Stephenteap) March 20, 2019
Desperately sad. Too sad. So, we all say #ThankYouLaura today. Vaccinations make us all safer, and you made it your mission to fight those who say otherwise – all while coping with what this world was throwing at you. Thank you to all of Laura’s people too. https://twitter.com/HSELive/status/1108416465718394880
— Sinead O’Carroll (@SineadOCarroll) March 20, 2019
Dr Laura Brennan @laura_jbrennan exuded strength and positivity – even when her illness brought many challenges. How generous of her to use her limited time to campaign so that others won’t suffer the same fate. What a legacy she has left. #ThankYouLaura
— Susan Mitchell (@susmitchellSBP) March 20, 2019
Many knew Laura Brennan for her advocacy work in favour of the HPV Vaccine. To those who knew Laura personally however, it was her courage and her amazing positivity that defined her.
— Clare County Council (@ClareCoCo) March 20, 2019
Incredibly sad to hear of the death of Laura Brennan. Her bravery & determination to help others were truly inspiring. By convincing parents to vaccinate their daughters, she has saved so many other women from cervical cancer. We all owe her a massive debt #ThankYouLaura pic.twitter.com/106deKOGia
— Averil Power (@averilpower) March 20, 2019
I feel a deep and crashing wave of sadness when I think about @laura_jbrennan slipping away today.
I bought her a burger in Bunsen and we laughed and bitched and had a proper afternoon of craic one sunny day last year. She was a powerful force to be around. #ThankyouLaura
— There’s a New Man (@TheresaNewIdea) March 20, 2019
Thank you, Laura, for everything you have done for the women of Ireland.
The family have asked for their privacy to be respected at this heartbreaking time.
Main photograph: @HSELive