true warrior | 

How Lynsey Bennett was let down by the health system fought to the end for more time with her children

In February 2021, Lynsey Bennett settled her High Court action over the alleged misinterpretation of her cervical smear slides. Approving the settlement Mr Justice Kevin Cross said Ms Bennett was “a person of great courage”. Photo: Collins

Lynsey Bennett


She was a “warrior” who fought to the end for more time with her beloved daughters and a “beautiful person” who generously volunteered with teenagers.

Her friends will remember her for her courage and humour in the face of a devastating health battle in which she had never asked “Why me?” but instead “Why not me?”

Tributes have been paid to Lynsey Bennett (34), who captured the hearts of the nation when she appeared on the Late Late Show last year to talk about her devastating cervical cancer prognosis.

The Longford woman had been told by doctors she had between six and eight months to live, but she fought for her survival for 23 months, seeking treatment in Mexico and Germany.

She leaves behind two daughters – Zoe (14) and Hailee, who is nine.

Despite her experience, Ms Bennett had urged women to go for their smear tests, revealing how she had gone for her first one around the time of her 21st birthday after her mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

In a statement, her solicitor, Gillian O’Mahony, said Ms Bennett, of Ennybegs, Killoe, Co Longford, died peacefully on Thursday night, and described her as “a very special person.”

“Lynsey’s beautiful girls, father, sisters, family and friends are heartbroken at the passing of Lynsey at the young age of 34 years and would appeal for privacy at the moment,” Ms O’Mahony said.

Her funeral will take place at St John’s Church in Longford on Monday.

In an interview, Ms Bennett – who was deeply spiritual – revealed she had already planned her memorial service with the help of her Church of Ireland pastor, Rev Simon Scott, and that Dermot Kennedy’s version of the Van Morrison song Days Like Thiswouldbe played.

Fellow CervicalCheck campaigner Stephen Teap, whose wife, Irene, also died from cervical cancer, posted on social media, describing Ms Bennett as “a beautiful person and mother”.

“Overwhelmed with emotions at the shock of learning of the passing of the beautiful person and mother that was Lynsey Bennett,” he said.

“While her pain ends today, it only begins for those who loved her most. My thoughts are especially with her two little girls.”

Ms Bennett’s close friend, Una Healy, said she was “heartbroken beyond words”.

The two had recently enjoyed a trip together with their children to Disneyland Paris.

“Lynsey, I am heartbroken beyond words,” the singer wrote in an Instagram post.

“I am so grateful for all the special memories we made together. Always in my heart, forever in my soul.

“Life is so precious and you lived and loved it to the fullest. Rest in Peace my beautiful friend.

“My thoughts are with your family and friends especially your babies Zoe and Hailee.”

A former model who had appeared on an episode of First Dates, Ms Bennett had spoken publicly about her health struggles.

After the death of her mother, she diligently went for her smear tests, undergoing five in the course of seven years.

However, late in 2016, she began to bleed heavily and went to the doctor.

“I thought I was losing my mind,” she said.

Just a short time later, she was told she had aggressive cervical cancer and, at the age of 28, she was given the crushing news she would be unable to have any more children.

Her mother, Lesley, died from breast cancer in her 50s.

Ms Bennett said one of the hardest things about the whole ordeal was not having her mother by her side, and added: “I never ever wanted to be in the position that she ended up in herself.”

It was while awaiting radiation treatment in the hospital that she saw Vicky Phelan on the steps of The Four Courts, breaking the silence of the CervicalCheck scandal.

She subsequently built a friendship with her and they shared many messages of support.

Yesterday, Ms Phelan paid tribute to her friend, saying she was thinking of her family and friends and her two girls, “who are so very young to have their mother taken away from them”.

She said: “Lynsey had an amazing will to live which no doubt kept her alive for as long as she did beyond the six-month prognosis that she was given. Her daughters were able to get some extra precious time to spend with their Mam and make some more memories that they will treasure.”

Ms Bennett’s cancer returned in September 2020. In an interview with Virgin Media’s Ireland AM, she shared the harsh reality of living with cancer while trying to shield her daughters as much as she could.

On February 3, 2021, she settled her High Court action over the alleged misinterpretation of her cervical smear slides and wept as a letter of regret from the head of the CervicalCheck national screening programme was read out in court.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said Ms Bennett was “a person of great courage.”

Outside the court, she said she was relieved her legal battle was over and that she had security for her children and their future, saying: “Unfortunately, I probably will not be here much longer. It is just I will be able to have some peace knowing it is sorted.”

To her daughters, she said: “I hope I have done enough to secure you both a future free of financial worries and that even with me not here to guide you, you can both pursue your dreams.”

She wept as she addressed her girls, saying: “And always remember, Mammy loves you.”

A short time later, she flew to Mexico for treatment that she later described as having made her feel like she had “got some of my power back”.

“I got to spend over a year now making memories and being able to get up in the morning and get things done that I never thought was going to be possible,” she said.

Even in the midst of her own health concerns, she had volunteered last summer with the Attic House Teen Project in Longford, accompanying them on trips and giving make-up and fashion tutorials. Staff described her as “a lovely girl”.

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