Friday 24 May 2019

'I was utterly heartbroken to hear the news' - tributes paid to 'warrior' Tracey who helped win equal access to cervical cancer treatment

Meeting: Tracey Brennan (second from right) with Labour Party health spokesperson Alan Kelly, Vicky Phelan, and Aine Morgan (right) in December.
Meeting: Tracey Brennan (second from right) with Labour Party health spokesperson Alan Kelly, Vicky Phelan, and Aine Morgan (right) in December.
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

Vicky Phelan led tributes to "cervical cancer warrior" Tracey Brennan, who will be laid to rest today after realising her goal of equal access to the Pembrolizumab drug.

Vicky Phelan led tributes to "cervical cancer warrior" Tracey Brennan, who will be laid to rest today after realising her goal of equal access to the Pembrolizumab drug.

Ms Brennan, from Roscommon, had lobbied Government ardently, alongside Ms Phelan and fellow campaigner Aine Morgan, for the expensive drug to be available to every single woman enduring cervical cancer.

The mother, diagnosed with stage-two cervical cancer in 2017 following a smear test, had received treatment but suffered a relapse in April 2018.

Ms Phelan wrote on Twitter last night: "I was utterly heartbroken to hear this news...

"RIP Tracey Brennan: friend, fellow cervical cancer warrior and campaigner. My sincere condolences to Aidan and Evan."

A death notice stated Ms Brennan had passed away "peacefully in the devoted care of the staff at Galway University Hospital, surrounded by her loving family after a battle bravely fought". She was a "much-loved wife of Aidan and adoring mother to Evan. She will be very sadly missed by her heartbroken family, parents Pauline and MJ, sisters Amanda, Emma and Laura, brothers Michael and Tommie, brothers-in-law, sister-in-law, niece, nephew, relatives, extended family, neighbours and many friends."

Ms Brennan's funeral is to take place today at St Patrick's Church, Cloverhill, Roscommon, at 12pm.

In January, Ms Brennan and the other campaigners' demands were finally met.

The Department of Health announced the immunotherapy drug known as 'Pembro' would be provided to all cervical cancer patients provided their doctors recommended the treatment.

Ms Brennan told Shannonside FM at that time: "It's just an amazing day, a fantastic feeling.

"We have lots of challenges to face on a daily basis but this is something...and we can go on, and go forward."

Ms Phelan had received Pembro herself, and in November last year, said it had reduced her tumours.

The drug had cost up to €8,500 every three weeks and it had been available only to patients with melanoma and a small number of other cancers, but not cervical.

The three women's constant campaigning changed the medical landscape for all cervical cancer patients, ensuring there would be no wealth divide when it came to this treatment.

Women of all ages can develop cervical cancer, but it mostly affects women aged 30 to 45. Cervical cancer is very rare in women under 25.

Ms Brennan's family suggested mourners could make donations if desired to Roscommon Palliative Care.

Irish Independent

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