Emma Mhic Mhathúna was one of the key figures at the centre of the Cervical Check controversy.
The mother of five, aged 37, was originally from Dublin but had moved to Kerry in the past year and was raising a young family on her own. She had been given a diagnosis of terminal cancer in May of this year and the following month secured a €7.5m settlement in a case against US laboratory Quest Diagnostics for misreading her smears in 2010 and 2013, and the HSE for failing to disclose the findings of an audit.
During the hearing, Ms Mhic Mhathúna told the judge her children were very proud of her and said she was looking forward to enjoying time with them.
“My daughter and sons are proud of me for getting an astronomical figure,” she told the judge.
She was to get only a few more months with her children.
In 2016, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer and in May she was told that her diagnosis was terminal and had spread to her bones.
In a harrowing interview that month on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, she spoke of trying to come to terms with the diagnosis and the reality that her children were going to lose their mother.
I’m dying when I don’t need to die and my children are going to be without me and I’m going to be without them,” she said. I” tried to do everything right, you know, breastfeeding and being a full-time mum and sacrificing my own life for them and I didn’t see it as a sacrifice and now I’m going to miss out and I don’t even know if my little baby is going to remember me.
She spoke about telling her children about her diagnosis, saying it was “the hardest thing I ever had to do because, as a mother, it’s my job to protect them and to keep the bad news away from them”.
“Last night, I was in bed and I was having a dream, a really bad dream. I dreamt that I was dying last night and I wasn’t ready because I hadn’t said goodbye to my children and, in my dream, I was trying to ring 999 but I couldn’t pick up the phone.
“So, in my dream, I had gone into Natasha. She sleeps across the landing and I was trying to wake her up so I could say goodbye to her because I hadn’t said goodbye. Then I woke up and I said: ‘Thank God I haven’t died yet because I want to say goodbye to them and this isn’t fair.’ ”
In a statement, Ms Mhic Mhathúna’s family said she died in the “knowledge that she had helped to shine a light on important issues which affected not just her own life, but the lives of many others”.