Beautiful Sorcha Glenn had her whole life ahead of her. A devoted boyfriend, loving family and huge circle of friends.
That life was cruelly cut short three months ago when the 23 year-old lost her battle with cervical cancer.
It was a battle fought with courage and a determination to raise awareness for others.
Sorcha Glenn’s legacy is that no other young woman should have go through what she did.
Team Sorcha need 100,000 signatures on an e-petition demanding that young women who request a smear test be provided with one, and it should not be refused based on age discrimination.
55,000 signatures have now been collected and Team Sorcha have partnered up with Derry’s Pink Ladies to raise awareness of cervical cancer.
The groups will be hosting a coffee morning on January 30 in the Maldron Hotel (formerly the Tower) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Sorcha’s mother Christina said that all donations on the day will be given to ‘Friends of the Cancer Centre’ who were so good to Sorcha during her illness.
“Come along for a chat and cuppa,” said Christina. “We’ll be giving out some important information on cervical cancer.”
Christina explained how Sorcha had asked for a smear text when she was 22, however was refused because women are not routinely given a smear test until they turn 25.
“By August Sorcha began having symptoms, including bleeding and cramping,” she said. “The GP carried out a smear and when she did she found a mass. Sorcha was referred to Altnagelvin and on September 4 she was told she had cervical cancer.”
During the following months Sorcha and her boyfriend Matt Lynch faced challenge after challenge deciding to freeze her eggs, and then facing six rounds of chemotherapy, 36 radiotherapy sessions, brachytherapy and eventually a full hysterectomy.
The family were told that Sorcha’s cancer was so rare it is only seen once every two years in Ireland.
In October 2014, brave Sorcha lost her battle with cancer.
Matt and her mum Christina are determined that Sorcha’s death will not be in vain and are battling to allow all young women the right to a smear test.
“We have heard so many stories of young women with this illness,” said Christina. “When a young woman goes in and asks for a smear test, they are making an informed choice. They should get it. The HPV vaccine is not a cure. Sorcha had the vaccine.”
Matt said that Sorcha was frustrated by a health service that refused to let her access a service that should have been made available to all women.
“But Sorcha was always positive,” he said, “She never thought something like this was going to happen to her, she was always positive. She always thought that if you went through something bad something good would follow.”
Pink Lady Michelle McLaren and Pink Ladies project co-ordinator Gabrielle Laidler said that as January was Cervical Cancer Awareness Month they wanted to join forces with Team Sorcha to raise awareness.
“While the Pink Ladies started as a breast cancer support group, we now support people with all cancers,” said Michelle. “We also have a carers’ support group and a men’s group - the Pink Panthers.
“We decided to organise and hold a coffee morning in partnership with Team Sorcha in memory of Sorcha.”
“It’s the right of every woman to demand a smear,” said Gabrielle.
“It’s a personal choice,” said Michelle. “Whether they have signs or symptoms, or even if they don’t . You shouldn’t have to challenge it. Let’s face it - no one wants to go in and have a smear just for the hell of it. If you are going in and asking then genuinely there is a worry or a symptom there. “
Gabrielle said she wanted to wanted to raise awareness of symptoms among young women.
“We will be giving information on the signs and symptoms to look out for on the day,” she said,
Michelle said that it’s vital that women attend all their smear tests.
“If you notice any changes or have any worries you should contact your GP immediately,” she said.
“Cancer has no age limit, it can happen to you at any time. A lot of young women are being diagnosed now. So many stories have come forward because of Sorcha. ”
The Pink Ladies are asking anyone that can donate to the coffee morning to get in contact with them. They are in need of buns, pastries and someone who would be willing to bake and donate a special cake.
They are also looking for raffle prizes.
You can contact the Pink ladies on firstname.lastname@example.org and 07568588124
You can sign the petition online at www.teamsorcha.com