Belfast Telegraph

How tireless Una Crudden made sure cancer awareness battle won't die along with her

By Joanne Sweeney

Una Crudden's legacy of fighting ovarian cancer will be taken on by her devoted family.

Just days before her death yesterday morning, the tireless cancer campaigner and Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year insisted that her family should carry on her work.

The 60-year-old grandmother from west Belfast died at the Northern Ireland Hospice five years to the day when she first received her diagnosis of ovarian cancer. She was surrounded by her husband Felix, five children, Lisa, Grainne, Oonagh, Phillip and Nathan, and her twin sister at the end, having only spent her last 48 hours at the hospice.

Her eldest daughter Lisa McGarry revealed that her mother urged her to push on with her work saying “You can’t let this die with me”.

She said; “Mum was very adamant about it. So we are absolutely going to take it on, We haven’t planned out how yet as the last few months has been very much caring for my mum. We have said today that once we get Christmas over, we will start in the new year.”

The west Belfast woman gained the respect of all by continuing to fight to save other lives by early detection even though she knew her own illness was terminal.

After a five-year campaign, she succeeded in working with the Public Health Agency to develop a warning signs leaflet campaign and had set her sights to ensure that women like her had equal access to life-prolonging cancer medication.

Ms McGarry said that while she was pleased with the awareness campaign, she would have dearly wanted to see it on radio and televison.

She added: “If mum had made it another year, she had planned to make the Equality Cancer drug campaign her next big thing. She was really starting to throw her weight behind that earlier this year before she went down hill.

“There was one main drug and several other possible others that may have extended her life from anything from three months to three years but she didn’t get that as she lived here. She wanted to improve the situation for everyone in Northern Ireland.”

The grandmother found herself at the centre of government with her campaigning and an overnight social media phenomenon when she chose to share her story with the public in order to affect change. She initiated a Twitter debate called #tealtakeoever — the ovarian cancer campaign colour.

Lisa added: “She had some good days, even weeks at home and some bad.

“She was still organising and planning to the last. She has her funeral planned down to the smallest detail, she has chosen her music to be joyous and uplifting. She even had ordered ties for the boys in teal and asked everyone to wear something in teal if they can.”

She said that the family and grandchildren “were everything to my mother and she lived for us. And what goodness we have is down to her”.

Funeral

A Requiem Mass will be held at the Church of the Nativity in Poleglass on Monday at 12pm followed by a private ceremony at the crematorium. Donations in lieu of flowers

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