Almost €40k raised for cervical cancer
Kevin Cullen and his late fiancée Aoife O’Donovan

Almost €40k raised for cervical cancer

RAISING awareness of cervical cancer, Kevin Cullen, cycled 200km and fundraised €38,000 in memory of his late fiancée, Aoife, who died three days before their wedding.

Kevin took on the challenge of cycling from his native Walkinstown to Dungarvan, Co Waterford, where his late fiancée Aoife O’Donovan was originally from.

Aoife died on May 1 at the tender age of 30, having battled cervical cancer for a year and a half.

Raising awareness for cervical cancer was at the forefront of Aoife’s mind before her death, and Kevin wanted to try carry on her wishes.

“I was thinking about cancer all day, every day, for about a year and a half,” Kevin tells The Echo.

“Aoife was trying to figure out how to have the best life after cancer, and how she wanted to advocate for people to get a smear test, and to learn about non-HPV cancers.

“After she passed, I wanted to put my energy and frustration into raising awareness, and to encourage people to get irregularities checked.”

And so, Kevin (32) got his first bike since he was 12 years old and began regularly cycling 30km to 40km every other day in preparation for the 197km trek in aid of the Irish Cancer

Society.

Friends and loved ones of the couple then supported Kevin on his task to raise awareness and funds, and they cycled from Dublin to Dungarvan on September 3/4.

Kevin asked Aoife to marry him in 2018 with the view of tying the knot this year, in 2022.

The cyclists present a cheque of €37,850 to the Irish Cancer Society

As Kevin explains, it was in “midst of a global pandemic” that Aoife “started to notice irregular bleeding” but the couple “didn’t think too much into it at the time”.

Initially, the prognosis was quite good with their GP believing there was not much to be concerned with – although Aoife’s condition did start to worsen.

In October 2020, Aoife went for a biopsy in The Coombe.

“About a week after the biopsy we were on the drive down to The Coombe to get the results and in the car, we were thinking this was one of those scares that we’d look back on in years to come,” Kevin reflects. “She was diagnosed with a non-HPV cervical cancer, so it is non-detectable on a smear test, and it was quite advanced at that stage.

“So, very quickly, Aoife started chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and she fought so hard, I’m so proud of her for how hard she fought.

“We got good news then in March 2021, the mass in her pelvis had responded well.

“But we were told after another scan that the cancer had spread throughout Aoife’s lymphatic system, around her heart and lungs, and that it had gone too far to cure.”

In the interim, the couple purchased a house in Dungarvan, Co Waterford, so that Aoife could be closer to her family, but they never got to live there.

Having endured a lot, the couple decided to cancel their earmarked wedding of February 25 of this year, as Aoife underwent treatment to maintain the cancer and prolong her life.

“When Aoife was in St James’s Hospital, I was in the process of getting a court injunction so that we could have a wedding in the hospital,” Kevin details.

“When I asked Aoife to marry me, I had full intention to carry that through, I wanted to call Aoife my wife and say I was her husband, even if it was only for a couple of days.

“But she died three days before we could get married in the ward. Aoife battled a tough fight for 18 months until she passed on May 1 – I’m really proud of her for how hard she fought.”

On Kevin’s trip, he stopped in Carlow after an 80km cycle on day one before biking through “120km of hills” on day two to get over the line at Abbeyside Church in Dungarvan, where Aoife was laid to rest.

Kevin has emphasised the need to get irregularities checked early and wants to continue raising awareness for non-HPV forms of cervical cancer, urging people to do their own research.

The GoFundMe is currently at €38,640, with all proceeds used for cancer research. To support the cause, visit: HERE.