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29 Nov 2021

Lynsey Bennett: ‘I will never forget the support from Longford during such a hard time’

Lynsey Bennett:  ‘I will never forget the support from Longford during such a hard time’

Lynsey Bennett with her daughters, Zoe and Hailee

Jessica Thompson speaks to Lynsey Bennett ahead of her trip to Mexico, where she’ll be treated for cervical cancer

Lynsey Bennett is the name on everyone’s lips since last Wednesday when she stood on the steps of the High Court and delivered a brave and emotional speech following the settlement of her case against the HSE over the misreading of her cervical smear tests.

The 32-year-old mother of two has battled cervical cancer twice already and come out the other side but was told in the autumn that the disease had returned and, this time, she wouldn't be cured by the treatment.

Since last week, the whole of Ireland has rallied around Lynsey, with an inspiring and dignified appearance on the Late Late Show last Friday night moving the entire country to tears as she explained how she told her two daughters, Zoe and Hailee that “mammy might have to be an angel” this time.

But the local lady’s positivity shines through still and her bubbly personality, despite everything she has endured was what stood out most when she took time out of her busy schedule to speak to the Longford Leader this week.

“Trust me to be going to Mexico in a pandemic lockdown when you can’t buy clothes,” she laughed, explaining that the clothes she had ordered online for her trip had not arrived in time.

“I need to find clothes that probably don’t exist in my house. It’s 25 to 28 degrees over there. It’ll be nice and I’ll have no clothes - I’ll be there in the winter woollies!”

Lysney flew to Mexico on Tuesday and is feeling hopeful about the four weeks of treatment she will receive there.

Read more: Longford's Lynsey Bennet jets off to Mexico for four weeks of treatment

“I’m not nervous,” she said, “I just feel so hopeful about it, but it’s been so busy between the Late Late Show, Miriam O’Callaghan, Ireland AM, Shannonside, that I haven’t had five minutes to pack, let alone think about how I feel. I want to get over and I want to get started.

“They’re going to be using a lot of different machines on me for complementary treatments, and then they’re also going to be doing infusions,” she explained.

“Some of them will be vitamins and some of them will be immunotherapy, but it will be a non-toxic immunotherapy. It’s not the pembro one that I hope to do at some stage after I get back, as my next backup plan.”

Because she’s got the whole of Ireland following her journey now, she promises she’ll be vlogging about her treatment regularly via Facebook and Instagram (@cancerwithgratitude), while she’s undergoing this unique treatment.

“I’ve spoken to three or four people who have actually gone to Mexico because I wasn’t going to be spending nearly €45,000 - and that’s not even including flights - to not have at least spoken to some people who have gone there and said it’s legit,” she remarked.

“Some of them have actually gone into remission when their cancer has spread so bad, which is amazing.”

Incredibly, while Lynsey’s main focus is to fight the disease and get better so that she can spend as much time as possible with her two girls, her thoughts are also filled with the hopes of helping others through her own experiences.

“I am hoping - because the machines should be good for lots of different illnesses - I’m hoping that I might actually get back and buy some of these machines and get something set up in Longford - a little centre that they’re all together in one so people will be able to benefit from these machines as well,” she said.

“I just need to get over, see what they’re like, see if they’re any good and then I would love to bring it back to Longford so someone else will have a fighting chance if it is a thing that they don’t want to be doing the treatments that they’re doing or they might want to build up their body and their immune system in non-toxic ways.”

It’s a big dream and a thoughtful one and, for someone who has already battled cancer twice - and won - anything is possible. It would be an entirely selfless way to give back to the people of Longford, who rowed in behind her as soon as she was diagnosed in the autumn, raising over €84,000 via GoFundMe and a Christmas Tractor Run, which saw over 270 tractors take to the streets of Longford, flashing Christmas lights all the while.

In fact a quick look at the Curing LynseyBee GoFundMe campaign shows that people are still donating in the hope that the young mother will find a breakthrough treatment.

Read also: Late Late Show viewers captivated by dignity of inspirational Longford mum Lynsey Bennett

“I am so grateful. I will never forget the support during such a hard time for the entire country - not only Longford. You often hear people saying negative things about Longford but it just shows what fantastic people do exist in Longford,” said a grateful Lynsey.

“Because of them, I feel like it is possible to get my ‘miraculous cure’ and it’s only thanks to all of them that I’m able to step foot on this plane to Mexico and try and get myself better.”

People have flocked to Lynsey’s aid across the country. Optimal Chauffeur company picked her up from her home and transported her to the airport on Tuesday. Even in Dublin Airport, she was given the VIP treatment, with access to the lounge and transport from the door of the airport to the steps of the plane, she noted with a laugh.

“Amazingly, we’re actually flying business class and a big thank you to Mary in Kane’s Travel who helped organise the flights and stuff like that, so it wasn’t like I was having to look up stuff,” she said.

“But it was only €200 more expensive to fly business class than to fly economy on the day that we chose, yet it was €1,500 more expensive on other days, so we got so lucky. So, so lucky. And you’re away from other people, because they’re more single seats, I think... not that I have any experience in business class,” she joked.

Ahead of her appearance on Ireland AM on Monday morning, Lynsey and her daughters, Zoe and Hailee, were put up in a hotel, where they spent some time together before being separated for four weeks. Following such a busy week of interviews and High Court settlements and preparation for treatment, Lysney treasured that time she got to spend with her girls and is extremely grateful to Ireland AM for giving her that opportunity.

“We got to spend a couple of hours together. I gave them their Valentine’s presents and stuff because I won’t be here for Valentine’s, I’ll be in Mexico. The girls are amazing through all of this. I’m so proud of them,” she added, and it is clear she is doing her best to bring that gratitude and positivity to as many people as possible.

“I did a podcast called What is Your Why. I did it on the 16th of January. It’s up on YouTube. So I did it before the High Court or any of the interviews or anything like that and I said in it one of my goals is to try and help people. It would be interesting for people to see my views and how I was before anything that happened since last Wednesday, and it was really great to do that podcast.”

Lynsey has captured the hearts of so many across the nation but what stands out is the number of people she has helped over the years, and how many people have told her they’ve gone for their smear tests or gotten themselves checked out because of her encouragement.

On Friday night, when she spoke with Ryan Tubridy on the Late Late Show, she said that her advice to women is to get their smear test and if it comes back all clear, great - but “trust your gut” if you feel like something is wrong, as Lynsey herself did before each of ther three cervical cancer diagnoses.

“It’s funny because I never thought that I’d have half of Ireland messaging me and women ringing me, worrying and saying thank you so much, you’ve helped me.

“I had a couple of thousand followers anyway on my Instagram, so every so often I used to get messages. But now I can see there are just so many women contacting me saying wow, I’m actually now going to believe in myself. But it’s crazy. My Instagram is now 35 and a half thousand followers and I’m just like, okay, it’s amazing and I hope I will be able to help more people. It’s amazing.

“I have never met one family yet that has not been devastated by cancer or touched by cancer. It’s really a worldwide thing. Certainly in Ireland there are no families that haven’t had that horrendous word mentioned. So I hope I can help others,” she added.

It has been a whirlwind week for Lynsey since her High Court case was settled and, while she has been swept up and kept busy with all the media interviews and her plans to travel to Mexico, not to mention making time for her daughters, there’s still the ever-present issue of liability and the fact that no proper apology has been issued by the state who let Lynsey and so many other women down so badly.

During her Late Late Show appearance, Lynsey commented that the words ‘deep regret’ were being put out there so often but the words ‘I’m sorry’ were not so forthcoming. But, while women’s health campaigner, Vicky Phelan expressed anger at the lack of a proper apology from the HSE and the lab that let both Vicky and Lynsey down, the Longford lady refuses to focus on the negatives and chooses only to stay strong for herself and for her girls.

“I just say to myself, look, we’re all human at the end of the day. And I don’t know why people make the decisions that they make and I just worry about myself and the girls and I work on our little corner,” she explained.

“Because I can’t force someone to properly say ‘I’m sorry’. I have too many other things to worry about to focus on any of that and I just try and be the best I can be for the girls and for myself and I just don’t let all the other stuff take over.

“I can’t be dwelling on it because it’s not going to make me better. If anything, it will just end up upsetting me and I have too many more important things to worry about. What’s been done is done and I can’t make it undone. I can only just try to make things better for myself and my girls and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Read also: Longford mum Lynsey Bennett was 'failed by the State'

Through it all, Lynsey’s positivity has been an inspiration. Where others might fall into the depths of despair, she puts her best foot forward, accepts the hand she’s been dealt, and keeps going.

“The only thing that I don’t be happy with is those needles,” she laughed.

“The doctors and the nurses are like ‘you do be such a lady and so dignified and the second the word needle or injection comes into the equation, you literally just turn into a different person’.

“I’ve always said my only problem is those needles. I think about what I’m able to deal with and then when I get into a state or I get upset, I let it happen. But just not all the time. When I really feel like I can’t cope, I let it take over, whereas when I think I’m going to be okay, I think right, it might not be great, just put your best foot forward.”

Messages have flooded Lynsey’s social media and phone in their thousands, she said, and her plan is to get back to each and every one when she can.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone, really. I just want people to know that I will get back to messages. I’m replying to three or four hundred messages at a time and then it just comes back with five or six hundred messages and that’s not even the people I’ve replied to - it’s more people and I’m just like, wow,” she laughed.

“I’m hoping that in Mexico, because everything will have calmed down, I’m hoping that I will get a chance to reply to people then. But I appreciate every single message.”

Zoe and Hailee, she added, will be going between Hailee's dad, Michael, Zoe's dad and Lynsey's aunt Irene, while she’s away for her treatment - something for which she is extremely grateful, while a number of friends and family will be house-sitting for her.

Most of all, she is filled with appreciation for everyone in Longford who donated and offered support through everything.

“I am so grateful for everyone. I am always rooting for Longford. I love Longford. It’s home,” she concluded.

Read also: Women's health campaigner Vicky Phelan angered by absence of apology to Longford mum Lynsey Bennett

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