RTE broadcaster Joe Duffy was reunited with the family of Susie Long in Kilkenny to mark the fifth anniversary of her death at a memorial walk in the Castle Park on Sunday.
Mr Duffy recalled how the 42-year-old mother emailed his radio programme to expose the shocking divide between the public and private health service. Under the name ‘Rosie’ -- to protect her children, Aine and Fergus -- she gave a harrowing account of how her undiagnosed cancer had spread while she waited seven months for a colonoscopy. Susie did not have private health insurance as she did not believe it was right to skip the public queue.
Strong promises were made in the wake of Susie’s death that things would change. However, her friends and family continue to campaign for a better health service since the young mother’s death. Joe Duffy joined Susie’s husband, Conor MacLiam, and the couple’s daughter, Aine, to walk in the 42-year-old’s memory on Sunday afternoon.
The first ever Susie Long Memorial Walk was attended by over 100 people who donned t-shirts bearing the names of loved ones who died from cancer. The event is the latest fundraising initiative by the Susie Long Hospice Fund. The charity has already raised €620,000 towards providing a hospice for the people of Carlow and Kilkenny.
“Susie was a remarkable woman,” said Mr Duffy, as he addressed walkers who turned out in Kilkenny’s Castle Park. “Her name is known all over the country, her words had such a lasting impact,” he said.
In her original email to his show, Susie Long described how she “never dreamed” she’d get cancer, “let alone die from it”. “My message to anyone with symptoms of bowel cancer is go to your GP immediately. If you, like me, don’t have health insurance, pester them until they hate you, go to your politicians and beg them to help, go to the media, get a solicitor to threaten to sue the government and the hospital if they don’t get you in soon for a colonoscopy. Otherwise, the people who love you might lose you and you’ll not get to do all the things you planned in life,” she wrote.
Kilkenny Mayor Sean O hArgain, Carlow-Kilkennny Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness and his dog, Mikey, and Kilkenny Rose Aoibhinn Murphy, were among those who took part in the event.
Donations can be made directly to the Susie Long Hospice Fund at AIB, High St, Kilkenny, Account No: 3462705, Sort code: 93-31-98.