Saturday 26 May 2018

'Their smiling faces are the best medicine' - words of tragic Irene live on

Irene Teap and husband Stephen try on wigs after her hair fell out
Irene Teap and husband Stephen try on wigs after her hair fell out

Laura Lynott

THE words of a mother who died from cervical cancer after two incorrect smear test results live on in a heartbreaking blog she wrote detailing her treatment and family life.

The blog, 'Fierce and Fighting', shows the enduring strength of mother-of-two Irene Teap, who died aged 35 on July 26 last year.

Her widower Stephen Teap has spoken of his devastation at first losing his wife and then receiving a phone call last week from the HSE revealing Irene was one of 17 women who died after getting incorrect smear test results.

The mother of two boys, Oscar (5) and Noah (3), from Carrigaline, Co Cork, wrote in her blog on May 23 last year how she visited Disneyland Paris with her family.

"We got to the Disneyland Hotel... and it was magical. I don't know if it was adrenaline, dumb luck or Disney magic (I'm going with the pixie dust personally) but once we were actually there I started to feel so much better.

"We rented a wheelchair for me and because I can't stand or walk for long periods at the moment, we got a priority pass that allowed us to skip most of the queues.

Irene Teap died last July after an incorrect result.
Irene Teap died last July after an incorrect result.

"This trip to Disneyland gave me so much more than just a few days away. It was a complete break from real life - everything was colourful, everyone was smiling and happy and the world just seemed like a better place.

"It gave me a mental recharge that'll hopefully get me through the next few months of chemo. And more than that, it gave me memories.

"I can't count the number of times my eyes filled up with tears just watching the boys beaming and laughing and having fun. Their smiling faces are the very best medicine."

On July 3, 2017, only weeks before her death, Irene wrote on Facebook that she had treated herself and her two sons to a "pyjama day" as one child was struck with chicken pox, and she was "one momma worn out after chemo".

Irene died without knowing an audit of her previous smear tests found she was twice given false negative results - in 2010 and again in 2013.

Speaking to the 'Sunday Times', Stephen said he was overcome by "uncontrollable shaking" after receiving the phone call from a HSE business manager last week telling him Irene was one of 17 women who died from cervical cancer after getting incorrect smear test results.

"If either smear had been picked up, she would be sitting with us here today. If she had been told, she would have told everybody else about it for the same reason I'm doing it today - for every other woman," he said.

"She was always very good about her smear test. The question she asked a million times was, how the hell didn't the cancer show up in her smear? I can hear her voice in my head repeating that question.

"I've been running on empty with no tears for months. Now I feel pure anger for Irene."

Read more: Woman suing HSE after smear test anomalies allegedly missed

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