Cathy’s fight to make cancer drug available to all who needed it ‘an amazing legacy to leave behind’

Cathy Durkin’s three young children brought a family photograph, a camera, an apron, and story books to the altar for her funeral Mass in Dublin yesterday.

They were all poignant mementoes of how much Alex, 11, Alyssa, 8, and Conor, 4, will miss their mother, who fought to make a drug available for cancer sufferers like her.

In emotional interviews last April, Cathy said she believed the drug was her only chance of extending her life but the HSE had refused to pay for it.

Cathy, 41, died last Saturday in St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin, following her successful fight to get the melanoma cancer treatment drug Ipilmumab, known as Ipi, available to all who needed it.

Cathy, who had worked as a chef before her illness, started her treatment in St Vincent’s Hospital in May, a week after she appeared on The Late Late Show.

There was standing room only in the Holy Trinity Church in Donaghmede when chief celebrant, Fr Eoin McCrystal, said Cathy’s short time on earth had been full of life and compassion.

He said Cathy’s husband, Michael, told him after Mass last Sunday a passage from St Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians read out during the celebration summed up Cathy’s attitude to life.

It read: “Bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience.”

Fr McCrystal said Michael decided on the Parable of the Good Samaritan for Cathy’s funeral Mass because of the love and compassion that had flowed between her and the people who supported her campaign.

“Cathy received so many cards and letters from people from all over the country offering their financial, prayerful and practical support during her campaign and illness. It really meant a lot to Cathy and, indeed, to all her family,” Fr McCrystal said. “She was a true inspiration for so many people.”

Cathy’s sister, Celine Hopkins, who gave a eulogy at the end of the Mass, said Cathy always loved taking care of people so it was a complete shock when she was diagnosed with cancer last June.

Celine said it was because of her sister’s bravery and the support she received from people that no other family would have to fight to get access to Ipi.

“That in itself is an amazing legacy to leave behind but her real legacy that will continue is her lovely spirit, kind and gentle nature, strength and courage,” she said.


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