Sport Soccer

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and Liverpool stars in heartwarming gesture to Dublin woman fighting cancer

Ger Keville

Ger Keville

At the end of a storm, there’s a golden sky for brave Denise McQuillan, a 42-year-old Dubliner and avid Liverpool fan who is battling terminal cancer.

That famous line from the Liverpool anthem 'You’ll Never Walk Alone' exudes positivity and positivity is one trait Denise has in abundance.

The Liverpool Supporters Club brought this flag to Anfield last week
The Liverpool Supporters Club brought this flag to Anfield last week

Her attitude is inspiring. “I have two doors. One door is to heaven and I am ready for that if it is the door I have to go through. But I have another door. And that is the door I am walking towards and it is the door of hope and the door where I will walk out of, and that is the only door I am heading towards," is what she tells those close to her. 

It’s been an emotional week for all involved with Liverpool football club, not least the heroic families of the 96 fans who died on April 15, 1989, in the Hillsborough disaster.

Ronnie Whelan visits Denise
Ronnie Whelan visits Denise

It’s also been a hugely emotional week for Denise McQuillan.

Denise was diagnosed with terminal cancer last December, a few weeks after going into hospital complaining of pains in her left shoulder and back. Recently, Denise’s niece Shauna penned a heartwarming post on Facebook asking Liverpool FC if there was anything they could do to make her aunt feel special.

Shauna’s simple and kind gesture has led to Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard, James Milner and Jamie Carragher, to name but a few, reaching out. On Tuesday, the same day of the landmark Hillsborough verdict, Ronnie Whelan visited St Francis Hospice in Raheny to see Denise. He linked hands with the McQuillan family and sang You’ll Never Walk Alone for Denise and was “honoured” to be there. 

In the face of tragedy, the sporting community has an innate ability to bring people together.

“Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane sent her a message all the way from LA Galaxy last week so we were absolutely thrilled for her,” Denise’s sister Janice tells

“Jamie Redknapp is her favourite so we are still chasing him. We are on a mission.”

Denise in hospital with her pet dog
Denise in hospital with her pet dog

Shauna’s emotive message went all the way inside the walls of the Liverpool dressing room with Kop captain James Milner sending a video on behalf of the Liverpool team.

“James Milner, the Liverpool captain, has sent his best wishes as have Ian Rush, Harry Kewell, while Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher sent a jersey to the Dublin 15 Supporters Club. They got a huge banner made up for her last weekend and flew it on the Kop for the whole match. That flag made it back to her room last week.

“Ronnie Whelan came to see her on Tuesday and he sang You’ll Never Walk Alone with us, all holding hands. It was just amazing.

“Ronnie was very touched by the story and the day he came was the day the Hillsborough news broke so it was a very emotional day all round and he said he was honoured to be there and thought she was a lovely inspiring person. Denise is such an amazing person and much stronger at dealing with this than any of us, ” adds Janice, one of four sisters and three brothers in the McQuillan household.

While this week has no doubt brought the family memories that will live forever, the past few months have been tough.

Denise married her wife two years ago and they were in the process of looking into getting a mortgage to purchase their first house together.

“She just got married in 2014 and her wife Geraldine is amazing. The two of them are so positive and so optimistic. They were about to buy a house, got their deposit and were just about to approach the banks. Everything was falling into place, she had gotten married and was about to get a new house.”

Coming out as gay is not the only battle Denise has won.

“When Denise was 19, she had septicaemia and was told she was going to die but she pulled through and rehabilitated in under a year. Because of that, it can happen again. She is amazing,” adds Janice.

This week, Denise lost feeling in her legs and doctors say she is now paralysed from the waist but there are plenty of golden skies ahead for this brave woman.

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