A young woman diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer, who wanted to be given the chance to have a baby, has passed away.
Alice Taylor (26) was battling against stage 3B terminal cancer, which had spread to her heart, lungs and liver, since a PET scan last May.
The Kilkenny woman passed away surrounded by her parents Martin and Wendy, brothers James and William and her partner David O'Dea in St Anne's Ward in St Vincent's Hospital on Friday. A funeral will be held at St Brigid's Church, Ballycallan, at 11am on Wednesday. Never a person to give up without a fight, Ms Taylor wanted to raise €150,000 to enable her to receive the specialised treatment, via doctors in New York advising which immunotherapy drugs would best suit her.
Friends and family had been campaigning for months for her to get access to the drug 'Pembro', and more than €100,000 had been donated to an online fundraiser.
Cervical cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan said that Ms Taylor's death had "floored" her.
"I had met her and her mum Wendy at St Vincent's Hospital where Alice moved for treatment to get on Pembro, which she had started. It was obviously too late for her. She was far too young to die," she said.
From the village of Ballycallan, Ms Taylor was more used to caring for others through her job at SOS Kilkenny, which provides day and residential services for adults with intellectual disability, than looking after herself.
"It's hard to explain how you feel when given a terminal diagnosis. I am angry to think I may not be able to do and see a lot of things that I would like to do. I'm sad that I may not be around to have our baby brought into the world. I'm worried about my family, Dave [boyfriend] and friends and how they are coping with this situation," she had said.
Her cancer treatment began following her diagnosis in November 2017 after she attended her GP.
Although shaken by the diagnosis, both Ms Taylor and Mr O'Dea approached it in a strong and positive manner.
The couple first met at Waterford Institute of Technology in 2012 when Ms Taylor was studying for a degree in social care. Mr O'Dea remained by her side ever since.
"During my first appointment in Dublin, I received the news that I would never conceive or carry my own child. Gone was my lifelong dream of having beautiful little babies and becoming a mother. This news was as bad, if not worse, than the diagnosis itself," Ms Taylor had said.
After much discussion with the oncology team, the couple were offered fertility treatment at the Rotunda Hospital to create a blastocyst or embryo that would remain cryogenically frozen until a suitable surrogate could be found. "We successfully saved one blastocyst so we have a baby in waiting which is amazing and we are so thankful for. I really want to be here for our baby and see him or her grow up," added Ms Taylor.
Health advocate Vicky Phelan has pleaded with women to continue to go for smear tests after it was revealed that women are facing long delays for follow-up treatments after abnormalities are detected.
THE late CervicalCheck cancer activist Orla Church would take “huge comfort in knowing that the work she was involved in will make a difference to the lives of many women and their families in future,” her funeral mass heard today.