Tuesday 20 August 2019

'My God I'm not going to let it win' - Ruth Morrissey on her terminal cancer diagnosis and her landmark cervical court case

Fighter: Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul speaking to the media on leaving the Four Courts after a High Court judgment yesterday. Photo: Collins
Fighter: Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul speaking to the media on leaving the Four Courts after a High Court judgment yesterday. Photo: Collins
Ruth Morrissey. Photo: Collins Courts
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

INSPIRATIONAL Ruth Morrissey has said that she is determined "not to let her cancer win".

She said that hopes to overcome her terminal ovarian and breast cancer with the support of her "rock", her husband Paul and their daughter Libby (7).

The Morrisseys, from Monaleen, Co Limerick, were awarded €2.16 million by the High Court in a landmark action this week after they sued the HSE and two US laboratories in relation to the testing of her cervical smear slides in 2009 and 2012 in what was the first fully contested action relating to the CervicalCheck controversy.

Ms Morrissey's smear tests were allegedly misread in 2009 and 2012.

Speaking to Miriam O'Callaghan on RTE Radio One today, she said of the ruling: "I would love to say it was really exciting but it was more of a relief, the win for me was more against the labs and winning against them, that was the main thing for me.

"I'd like to say we jumped up and down and said that it was fantastic but it was more of a relief to know the labs were being held accountable and responsible for negligence and their labs."

She called the case "tough" but said she felt it important to highlight what had happened to her.

"It was tough to go through but it was something that needed to be done eventually for what was coming behind me because it gave an opportunity to unfold element of what people might not be aware of that that the HSE is responsible for the contracts and overall programme itself, from that perspective it was very, very important.

"It happened so quick, in the middle of my treatment, when we found out that I was one of the lades impacted we were kind of left in limbo, we'd nobody to turn to and there was nobody to answer questions for us, we felt the only person who had answers was Cian, my solicitor," Ms Morrissey said.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar previously said that women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy wouldn't have to go through the courts.

Ruth Morrissey. Photo: Collins Courts
Ruth Morrissey. Photo: Collins Courts

The mother-of-one said: "I was angry but when I think about it realistically he made a promise idealistically that he couldn't keep, I'm sure he was convinced it was an option for us but they have a right to defend themselves in court, just as we do.

"After sitting back and thinking about it I knew then that my case would be the one to go."

She said that being diagnosed with cancer was a "shock" and an "out of body experience".

Ms Morrissey said that she hopes to avail of Pembrolizumab - a drug which CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan says shrunk her tumours by 50pc - but isn't sure if it will be suitable for her.

"I don't know if that's an option for me, we haven't gone down that route yet because I went for the alternative options that were available, I had breast cancer as well so it's a different situation as I had two cancer strains.

"Pembrolizumab is designed for your immune system and it wouldn't know which strain to attack, I have compartmentalised everything into sections like a project, I had to deal with the breast cancer first and then the crervical cancer and then go back to the breast again.

"I had to see how I could deal with both, there were massive decision, such as having a double mastectomy but once I have the breast dealt with hopefully I can see if Pembrolizumab is an option for me but right now I just don't know, we'll have to wait and see," Ms Morrissey said.

The devoted mother said she now wants to make the most of her time with her family and spoke about their close bond.

"(Libby) is amazing, from her head to her toes, I love her to infinity and beyond, she's my best friend, she keeps us going, we're a family unit of three, three three of us love each other very very much, we do everything together, we go to the cinema, walks, films, we try to get her to Thomond Park as much as possible.

3/5/2019
Ruth Morrissey and her husband, Paul share a kiss outside the Four Courts after a High Court judgement.Pic: Collins Courts
3/5/2019 Ruth Morrissey and her husband, Paul share a kiss outside the Four Courts after a High Court judgement.Pic: Collins Courts

"We were hoping to go to Ariana Grande in September for her first concert but couldn't get three tickets but hopefully that's on our radar.

"We're fantastic together and she is amazing.

"When she was born we were told she wouldn't make it, we were given a very minimal chance but she was home in ten days, she's a wonderful human being and keeps us going."

She continued to say in a powerful message that her family gives her strength and she hopes to overcome her cancer.

Speaking about how she stays so positive, she said candidly: "It takes a while to do it and it's not like I jump out of bed but I have think about it in the morning about whether it'll be a good day or a bad day but I try to convince myself it'll be a good day.

"Don't get me wrong I have bad days where I don't want to get out of the bed and I just want to curl up think 'why me, what did me and my family do to deserve this?'

"I still have those questions and those days but the majority of my days are positive and they have to be, you have to have that positive mind frame because if you don't you're going to give up and you're going to let it win.

"My God I'm not going to let it win, I'm going to give it everything I have.

"I made a promise to Paul and Libby when I was first diagnosed that I would fight as hard as I could.

"The whole scandal didn't change anything, it's just put a little bit of extra weight on it.

"Life prepares you, we've been through an awful lot but I think that was for these days to be as strong as I possibly can."

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