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'She loved the excitement of life': Funeral of vaccine campaigner Laura Brennan taking place in Clare

Laura Brennan will be laid to rest following the service in Ennis Cathedral this afternoon.

LAST UPDATE | 27 Mar 2019

THE FUNERAL OF Laura Brennan – a leading HPV vaccine campaigner – is taking place in her home county of Clare today.

The 26-year-old will be laid to rest following a service at Ennis Cathedral this afternoon.

Father Pat Malone will tell Laura’s parents, Bernie and Larry, and her brothers Colin, Fergal and Kevin that there were no words to adequately express their loss.

“Sorry to see you in shock and pain.  Sorry that you have to say farewell to your beautiful daughter and sister.  Sorry that Laura has died,” he said in his homily.

“We gather with you, the Brennan Family today, to share your grief and we hope that our presence today and the presence of so many people, friends and strangers, is a comfort and support to you at this difficult time.”

Father Malone will also pay tribute to Laura’s campaigning, saying she displayed an awareness of the needs of others and a willingness to do good.

He will also say that people across the country and members of the health service owed a “huge debt of gratitude” to her for the manner in which she led the calls for women’s healthcare both in Ireland and abroad.

“We need to remember that Laura loved life, the excitement of life, the parties, the holidays, the concerts, the weekends away, time for personal pampering and of course high quality beauty products,” he will say.

“Her personal goodness was evident all through her life and it was not unknown for her to reach out to a homeless person on the street, stopping to talk and check if it was tea or coffee that would satisfy the immediate need.”

Some of the symbols that will be offered at the mass are pictures of Laura’s family and friends, a detention slip, a Clare ladies football jersey, a makeup bag, a CD from her favourite musical, and a picture of her dog Bailey.

Among those attending the mass are the mayor of Clare, Michael Begley, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s Aide de Camp, Commandant Caroline Burke and President Michael D Higgins’ Aide de Camp, Colonel Liam Condon.

Laura will be laid to rest later today.

Information campaign

Laura began campaigning to raise awareness for the HPV vaccine after she was diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 24.

She appeared in a number of promotional videos and spoke passionately as she advocated for girls to get the vaccine. 

Although she initially went through treatment and was predicted to have a good chance of recovering, the cancer eventually spread to her lymph nodes.

Laura’s campaign started with her appearance in a HSE video last March 2018, when the service rolled out the second phase of its HPV vaccine information campaign. 

In the video, she spoke of her previous optimism that her cancer could be cured and of the false hope that there was a “good chance” she could be cured.

“The vaccine saves lives,” she said. “It could have saved mine.”

Subsequent statistics have shown that the uptake rate of the HPV vaccine has risen since Laura began campaign. The reaction to the video was positive, and led to Laura appearing on the Late Late Show. 

Tributes poured in for the Clare woman following her death last week, with Minister for Health Simon Harris, the Irish Cancer Society and the Marie Keating Foundation among those praising her for her work.

The Brennan family said: ”

Laura was a light in the life of everyone who knew her; a wonderful daughter, sister and friend. We are lost without her.
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
With reporting from Sean Murray.

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