Family of Emma Mhic Mhathúna will miss her ‘beyond words’

President leads tributes to CervicalCheck campaigner (37) who died on Sunday

October 7th, 2018: Emma Mhic Mhathúna, one of the women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy, has died at the age of 37. Interview Sorcha Pollak, video: Bryan O'Brien

 

The family of CervicalCheck campaigner Emma Mhic Mhathúna, who died on Sunday morning aged 37, has said they will miss her “beyond words”.

Ms Mhic Mhathúna, a mother-of-five, died at University Hospital Kerry in Tralee.

She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2016, having previously received two incorrect smear-test results. She had sued the HSE and US laboratory Quest Diagnostics Incorporated and was awarded €7.5 million last June.

In a statement released on Sunday, Ms Mhic Mhathúna’s family said she battled her illness with great valour and passed away peacefully “in the comfort of her family’s loving embrace in the knowledge that she had helped to shine a light on important issues which affected not just her own life, but lives of many others”.

“Emma’s unending and unwavering commitment to her children means that her abiding legacy will be that of a great mother. However, Emma will also be remembered as someone who fought for social justice in an exceptionally selfless way during times of great personal challenge,” the statement said.

‘Inspired by her fight’

“We will miss Emma beyond words, her intellect, her love, her quick wit and infectious smile are irreplaceable to those closest to her in these difficult days. However, we take some comfort in the knowledge that Emma will be long remembered by the thousands of people who have been inspired by her fight for justice, transparency and improved services.”

The details of her funeral have not been confirmed yet.

Ms Mhic Mhathúna’s solicitor, Cian O’Carroll, said he was “deeply sad” to hear of her passing.

“Emma had been a lioness over the last six months trying to get everything organised to the best of her ability for her children and it was always about her children,” Mr O’Carroll told The Irish Times.

“She just never stopped talking about them and clearly never stopped thinking about them, and planning for them and preparing everything.”

‘Poise and bravery’

President Michael D Higgins said he was “greatly saddened” to hear of Ms Mhic Mhathúna’s death.

“When I met her and her children in May, I was greatly struck by her poise and bravery in the midst of what was a very difficult time for her family and friends,” he said.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also extended his condolences and said Ms Mhic Mhathúna “did us all a huge service with her advocacy for the HPV vaccine”.

“Despite her own tragic experience, she consistently supported the screening programme and encouraged women to continue engaging with the service,” he said.