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Image / Living / Culture

‘Thank you’: Laura Brennan’s heroic documentary is a must-watch


by Jennifer McShane
03rd Oct 2020
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On what would have been her 28th birthday this week, Laura Brennan’s tireless campaigning and inspirational advocacy have been remembered. Her journey detailed in an RTE documentary is 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.

Her brother Kevin Brennan and the HSE were among those who paid tribute to Laura and reminded the public of the importance of availing of the HPV vaccine which is available to first-year secondary students.

“She wouldn’t want us to miss this opportunity to remind people that this year’s students can now get the HPV vaccine in school. Look out for information packs and consent forms in schoolbags,” Kevin said on social media on behalf of the Brennan family.

“There’s a lot going on this year but that doesn’t make the HPV vaccine any less important. The school teams are now visiting secondary school across the country to offer the first dose of the HPV vaccine to all first-year students.”

During the 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.

Recent figures reveal that the uptake of the vaccine has risen to 70%.

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

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