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Image / Editorial

‘She was a light’: Emotional tributes paid as HPV campaigner Laura Brennan passes away

by Jennifer McShane
20th Mar 2019

“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.

“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.

Simon Harris also paid tribute to Laura, whose efforts as an HSE ambassador saw an almost 20% uptake in the HPV vaccine.

Many more have expressed their sense of loss as a beloved, selfless young woman has been taken, far too young and far too soon.

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