'Torture' | 

Dublin man lost fiancée to cancer just three days before wedding

Mr Cullen’s fiancée, Aoife O’Donovan, died from cervical cancer on May 1, just three days before they were due to get married.
Kevin Cullen and his fiancée Aoife O'Donovan

Kevin Cullen and his fiancée Aoife O'Donovan

Seoirse Mulgrew

A Dublin man is taking on the challenge of a 197km charity cycle to raise awareness for cervical cancer following the tragic death of his fiancée earlier this month.

Kevin Cullen (32) is cycling from Dublin to Dungarvan, Co Waterford, on September 3 to raise funds for the Irish Cancer Society.

Mr Cullen’s fiancée, Aoife O’Donovan, died from cervical cancer on May 1, just three days before they were due to get married. She was 30 years old.

Mr Cullen, of Walkinstown, said Aoife, who was originally from Dungarvan, was an active advocate for cervical cancer awareness throughout her illness and was always keen to emphasise the importance of people having smear tests.

“Aoife was diagnosed at the start of November 2020,” he revealed.

Kevin Cullen and his fiancée Aoife O'Donovan

Kevin Cullen and his fiancée Aoife O'Donovan

“Throughout the summer of 2020 she started to notice some symptoms typical of cervical cancer, like irregular bleeding.

“She had a biopsy in the Coombe and they confirmed it was cervical cancer.

“Initially, the prognosis was quite good… but we were told after another scan in March 2021 that the cancer had spread throughout Aoife’s lymphatic system and that it had gone too far to cure.”

The holder of a Master’s degree in environmental policy from University College Dublin, Ms O’Donovan worked with Ibec, Ireland’s biggest lobby and business representative group.

The late Aoife O'Donovan

The late Aoife O'Donovan

Mr Cullen said his fiancée loved to travel and had a “great sense of adventure”.

The couple had lived in San Francisco and London and got engaged in Stockholm.

“Her friends and family meant the world to her, she loved Harry Potter and spending time with her nephews,” said Mr Cullen.

The couple cancelled their wedding when Aoife received her diagnosis. “It’s just absolute torture. We wanted to start a family after we got married,” he said.

“Then when Aoife was in St James’s Hospital last month, I was trying my best to get a court injunction so that we could get married in the ward.

“We had our wedding scheduled for the Wednesday, but Aoife died on the Sunday before that. It’s absolutely horrendous.”

Mr Cullen said Aoife had an “incredible” mental strength throughout her illness and was a real “fighter”.

“Aoife being such a fighter meant she survived for 18 months, and we got to keep her for that long but at the same time, cancer just keeps taking so when Aoife did pass away, she was really suffering,” he said.

A number of the couple’s friends and members of their families are joining Mr Cullen in the charity cycle ride.

“When Aoife was sick, I bought us a house in Dungarvan so we could be close to her family,” said Mr Cullen.

“We never got to live there.”

Aoife was laid to rest in Abbeyside Church in Dungarvan and the cycle ride will end at the church.

Mr Cullen said he wants to do anything he can to be productive and help others who are currently battling the illness.

You can donate to the cause here


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