Belfast Telegraph

Derry woman bought Christmas gifts for family before she died from cervical cancer

Sorcha Glenn died after she was refused a smear test because she was under 25

By Charlotte Nisbet

A young Derry woman who died 17 days after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer made sure her family had gifts to open from her on Christmas Day.

Sorcha Glenn, from Derry, had battled cervical cancer for 13 months before doctors said it was terminal on October 7th. She died just 17 days later.

The 23-year-old loved the festive period and began buying her gifts while receiving treatment in hospital.

She finished her Christmas shopping before she passed away in her boyfriend’s arms.

Her family and long-term boyfriend, Matt Lynch, are now campaigning for women under 25-years-old to be given a smear test on demand , which they believe could have saved Sorcha.

"Sorcha was such an organised person that I wasn't surprised when she finished all of her Christmas shopping early," said Matt.

“It was typical of her to think of other people while being in so much pain and discomfort.

"She kept on buying us all things while she was in hospital but she kept it all a secret.

"I still have no idea what she has brought me so it will be bittersweet moment on Christmas day when I finally open my gift."

Sorcha first visited her GP surgery in June 2013 - she asked for an early smear test after being worried about her family history of cervical cancer – but she was refused due to being under the age of 25-years-old.

Matt said: "She began suffering from back pain and had bleeding between periods just two months later, she knew something wasn't right.

"After being initially refused a smear test she went back to her GP who carried out a smear as part of an examination.

"They noticed a polyp, a mass of tissue, on her cervix and she was referred."

Sorcha was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the September and underwent rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in a bid to save her life.

Matt said: "Last Christmas was a scary time but we really thought Sorcha would beat it, none of us every anticipated that she would die 13-months after being diagnosed.

"We had just moved in together and she had landed a new job, everything was on the up until she was diagnosed with cancer."

Matt slept at Sorcha's bedside throughout her treatment in hospital and devoted his time, along with her family, to ensure she was happy.

"It didn't matter where me and Sorcha were, we would always have a laugh," he continued.

"In the last few months I took the role as being her carer, I took time off work to help at the hospital.

"We didn't tell Sorcha that she was terminally ill as we didn't want her to give up – but she knew she was deteriorating.

"Deep down we sometimes think she knew she didn’t have long left, she just wanted to make sure we were all happy on Christmas Day."

Sorcha's mum, Christina Glenn, 58, recalls the past Christmases she has spent with her youngest daughter.

Christina said: "Sorcha would always nag me to put up the decorations early.

"It was a time of year she really enjoyed and I know she wouldn't want us to be sad but we all miss her terribly.

"I have no idea what she has bought me for Christmas but it breaks my heart knowing she won't be here to share the day with us.

"I hope that by sharing Sorcha's story that other women look out for the symptoms of cervical cancer and sign her petition so those under 25-years-old can get a smear test on demand.

"I don't want another family to go through what we've been through."

Sorcha's two grandmothers also died from cervical cancer but medical professionals have told the family that her cancer was not genetic.

Christina said: "I want government to stop discriminating against young women as it is has such devastating consequences.

“An early smear can literally save the life of a young woman as it is a preventable disease as are all cancers if caught in the very early stages.

"Sorcha wanted to help others even when she was really ill in hospital so we are campaigning in her name to try and save lives."

To sign Sorcha’s petition go to www.teamsorcha.com

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