Thursday 17 October 2019

'I was too young to know it was goodbye'

Alex Broderick with her mum as a child
Alex Broderick with her mum as a child
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

For Alex Broderick, the hardest thing about the cervical cancer scandal is thinking of the young children who may face the same pain that she did.

She was just five when her mother Anne Broderick, who was known as 'Lulu', passed away at the age of just 30 following a misdiagnosed smear. Last month marked the 20th anniversary of her death.

Lulu, who lived with her husband Kieran in Shankill, Co Dublin, had her first cervical smear test when she was 22 and two more after that in the UK and Ireland.

Her final smear was in March 1993, two months after Alex's birth. In March 1994, she was referred to hospital in the UK because of abnormal bleeding but discharged without diagnosis. The following month, however, she was examined at the Coombe and cancerous cells in her cervix were discovered. Some weeks later a large tumour was discovered.

She lived for four years after diagnosis, but passed away in April 1998. Alex has many cherished memories of her mother, recalling how two days before her death she was doing handstands up against the door of the living room.

"My mum put on a brave face and never let anyone see how ill she was," said Alex. "She was gorgeous beyond words and just lived every day."

Alex Broderick in London. Photo: Gerry McManus
Alex Broderick in London. Photo: Gerry McManus

Now living in London, Alex says she is heartbroken to be following the cervical cancer scandal at home.

"I just feel so bad for everyone else it's happening to - and it's not ok. I'm 25 now and I lost my mum 20 years ago. I still think every day about what I missed out on. It's so upsetting to read the stories of other people facing the same position.

"The saddest thing for me is to imagine lying there and wondering how do you say goodbye to your young children - that's what I find so distressing.

"I was so innocent at the time - I didn't know it was goodbye," she said, adding that she was brought up by her father, Kieran, who has also since died.

Alex feels strongly about the screening programme, saying some of her friends say they do not want to get a smear done because they would feel 'embarrassed'.

"People need to know how important it is to just get it done."

Irish Independent

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