Ennis woman Laura Brennan has been conferred with an honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature by University College Dublin.
Laura Brennan has spoken on radio and television about her diagnosis with terminal cervical cancer. Her powerful story helped to change the minds of many parents in Ireland towards the HPV vaccination.
After her doctor informed her that cancer was terminal, Laura told of how she contacted the HSE on Facebook to offer her personal story as encouragement for parents to have their children vaccinated against cervical cancer. The vaccination wasn’t available to Laura when she attended school.
Before appearing on the TV show, Laura had already been an outspoken advocate for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine that protects girls from developing cervical cancer when they are adults.
The 26-year-old from Ennis has helped to restore public confidence in the efficacy and safety of the HPV vaccination in Ireland.
Despite aggressive chemotherapy and radiotherapy her cancer has progressed and Laura is now receiving palliative chemotherapy.
Laura said: “The vaccine saves lives. It could have saved mine. Don’t be swayed by rumours. Get the facts. Get the vaccine.”
The HSE has offered the HPV vaccine to all girls in first year in second level schools since 2010 to protect them from cervical cancer in adulthood. HPV vaccine is offered to this age group because the response to the vaccine is best at this age.
The vaccine is recommended by the World Health Organization, the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the the National Immunisation Advisory Committee.
The HPV vaccine is available free of charge from the HSE for all girls in 1st year of second level school. The vaccine is given through a school based programme, to ensure high vaccine uptake. However, in specific instances some girls will be invited to special HSE clinics for their vaccines.
Over 250,000 girls in Ireland have received the HPV vaccine.
“One of the most active public advocates for HPV vaccination at a national and international level has been Laura Brennan, a 26-year-old lady from Clare, who has incurable cervical cancer. Laura has travelled Ireland and the world to promote HPV vaccination. Her honesty and strength in delivering her own difficult story demonstrates the impact patients’ voices can have on the public and policymakers,” says Professor Donal Brennan who will deliver the citation at the honorary ceremony in University College Dublin.