Monday 10 December 2018

'Deeply disturbed by the lack of empathy towards women' - Vicky Phelan announces break from campaigning

Vicky Phelan’s refusal to stay quiet has led to many more women with cancer taking action. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Vicky Phelan’s refusal to stay quiet has led to many more women with cancer taking action. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Payu Tiwari

Vicky Phelan has said she will be taking a break from campaigning about the CervicalCheck controversy, as she says she has been accused of 'bringing down the cervical screening programme'.

The Limerick mother, whose case first exposed the cancer screening scandal, said that she is "deeply disturbed" by some people and their attitude towards some of the affected women and their families.

She announced her decision on Twitter yesterday, ahead of her scheduled meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar today about the issue.

In a thread of tweets, Ms Phelan explained why she is choosing to step away from the public eye: “I will be taking a break from Twitter and from all #CervicalCheck Scandal campaigning after tomorrow, some of you will be glad to know.

“I am deeply disturbed by the lack of empathy in some quarters towards the women & families affected by the scandal.”

She addressed the people who are accusing her of ‘bringing down the cervical screening programme’  by explaining her personal story and how the scandal has affected her life:

“I can only speak for myself here. For those of you who are condemning me for 'bringing down the cervical screening programme', I never missed a smear and NEVER had an abnormal smear until I was diagnosed in July 2014 with invasive cervical cancer,” she wrote.

“I found out THREE years later, in Sept 2017, that a smear from 2011, which was originally read as No Abnormality Detected' was, when audited, full of CANCER, not pre-cancerour CINI, II or III but Squamous Cell Carcinoma. P8 for the medical heads.”

She continued to say: ”IF my smear in 2011 had been CORRECTLY read, I would only have had to have a hysterectomy and would have had a 90 per cent chance of being cured.

“I will be fighting to stay alive for the rest of my life so forgive me if I am angry and upset and fighting for change.”

She also called for changes to the current screening programme, she said: “I WANT a screening programme that I can trust. I have a daughter that I will be leaving behind.

"So get off your high horses and help me to change and to ensure that we have a screening programme that we CAN trust.”

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