On the first anniversary of her death, Laura Brennan's tireless campaigning and advocacy is remembered in an RTE documentary worth watching again
Laura Brennan was a beautiful 26-year-old with a zest for life that was second to none. Although living with a diagnosis of terminal cancer, Laura concentrated on living. As far as she was concerned, we are all dying, so there was no point focusing on it. “You only have one life, so why not make it a happy one?” she said.
Laura was only 24-years-old when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer stage 2B. 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.
Today on her anniversary, we remember a wonderful woman who stood tall in the face of adversity. She dedicated herself to protecting the lives of others & remains such a massive inspiration as we all face a national challenge together. @laura_jbrennan we miss you & we thank you
— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) March 20, 2020
During this new one-off documentary Laura Brennan: This Is Me, Laura decided to open up her life to reveal the reality of an ‘unvaccinated girl’. The moving documentary follows her up until her final stages, when, after a heroic battle, Laura died on March 20th 2019.
"Cancer showed me who wanted to be in my life. It really taught me who my real friends are"
In early December 2016, Laura has diagnosed with Stage 2B cervical cancer. She was treated with a combination of radiation and chemotherapy and the prognosis was good. She was declared cancer-free on the 15th June 2017. Laura bought a house, got herself a dog (Bailey), and set about living life to the full. But, just three months later, the cancer was back, and this time was deemed incurable.
Related: 'She was a light': Emotional tributes paid as HPV campaigner Laura Brennan passes away
A tireless advocate
“Don’t be swayed by numbers, get the facts, get the vaccine.”
She was determined that every parent in Ireland who was about to make the decision whether their daughter was to be vaccinated against HPV, would hear her story first. Laura worked tirelessly as an advocate for the HPV vaccine.
Her cancer, like 5% of all cancers, is caused by the HPV, human papillomavirus. The vaccination rate in Ireland had fallen to 51%, thanks to a lot of ill-founded negative publicity around the vaccine and so once her cancer returned, she began work with the HSE as the patient voice, to try and reverse this downward trend and prevent girls facing a similar fate to hers.
The most recent figures reveal that the uptake of the vaccine has risen to 70%.
Related: 'Do not ignore this': Vicky Phelan urges women to listen to their bodies
This heartwarming and utterly heartwrenching documentary shows how Laura was born with a voice and selflessly used it to do good. It is a must watch.
She is remembered as a light in the life of all who knew her.
Laura Brennan: This Is Me, exclusive on the RTÉ Player, is available to watch now
Main photograph: @RTE