| 6.3°C Dublin

Brave cancer campaigner Cathy loses her fight for life

BRAVE cancer campaigner Cathy Durkin has lost her battle with the disease. The mother-of-three headed a public campaign which forced health authorities to provide an expensive drug to cancer patients on the HSE.

Her oncologist Senator John Crown described her as "an unbelievably brave woman who had a tremendous spirit."

Ms Durkin (41) passed away at 7.30pm on Saturday in St Vincent's hospital, just four months after launching a successful campaign to make breakthrough cancer drug 'Ipi' available in Ireland.

Already 60 people have been prescribed the drug, which lengthens life by three to four months and sometimes longer.

The HSE had initially deemed the drug, which cost €85,000 for a four-dose treatment, to be too expensive.


However pastry chef Cathy went public in her plea for access to the drug, motivated by love for her young children.

"Everything is about the children. That's why I need to live, for them," she said.

A week before starting her treatment she was hopeful of beating her illness. "I'm practical, but I'm an optimist as well," she said at the time. "All this happened for a good reason and those kids need their mum."

Her husband Michael and children Alex (11), Aylssa (seven) and Conor (four) are devastated by the loss.

Dr Crown said: "It was her decision alone to go public and she deserves all the credit for that. Her efforts have led to an appropriate level of debate about the system of drugs coming on-stream in this country. I would like to pay tribute to Cathy for that and also to her husband and children who looked after her so well."

Money raised for her treatment before the HSE's U-turn will go to other good causes.

On the Late Late Show she said some of the €72,000 raised by the public would go to her neighbour's baby Sergio O'Connor who needs surgery in Boston to repair his digestive system and allow him to eat and drink.

The rest will go to other melanoma sufferers who are not eligible for Ipi.

The remains of Cathy Durkin will arrive at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Dublin's Donaghmede at 5.30pm today.

Her requiem Mass will be at 10am tomorrow, followed by the funeral to Glasnevin crematorium.