'It's spreading to my lymph system' - woman who had two misinterpreted smear tests shares 'devastating news'
One of the 46 women taking legal action in relation to the CervicalCheck scandal hopes to begin immunotherapy following news that her cancer is spreading
A woman who was diagnosed with cervical cancer following two all-clear smear tests has received “shocking and devastating news” that the cancer has spread to her lymph system.
Orla, who wishes to remain anonymous, spoke on RTE’s Liveline today about her case.
“It is spreading up, it spread as far... near my kidneys, now it hasn’t got in any organs yet, so it’s within the lymph system, but obviously it was very shocking and devastating news,” Orla said.
She explained how she had to stay strong for her family members upon receiving the news: “It was worse for my two sisters who were in the room who got more upset than I did. So I kind of had to support them.”
Orla first received false results in 2011 and then again in 2014, but upon a visit to a private gynaecologist in May 2016, her doctor identified a large tumour. Following initial diagnoses, she completed treatment in October 2016 and was given the all-clear in June 2017.
Unfortunately, she suffered a relapse in September 2017 and her most recent testing has revealed the cancer has spread to her lymph system.
While Orla was shocked and deeply upset by the news of her diagnosis, she said she was even more surprised by the difficulty she faced trying to get the results of her smear audits, which were being held in the United States in a lab in New Jersey.
“It’s just this kind of situation where you’re like, I can’t believe this — it’s like they have ownership of my smears,” she said.
“A lot of the other women, they’re only starting out on this journey and I just don’t want them to go through that, so I want to HSE — who hold the contract to CervicalCheck — to get all these smears and bring them to a lab in Dublin where their patients can get to them more easily.”
She has made contact with Dr Scally, who is carrying out an inquiry into the CervicalCheck controversy, and is due to sit down with Minister for Health Simon Harris in the coming week.
In her meeting with Simon Harris she wants to stress the importance of bringing in a combined HPV virus test and cervical smear test to identify risks and initiate a programme for HPV testing for woman on public waiting lists.
Orla said she hopes to begin immunotherapy — the same as Vicky Phelan is currently undergoing — in July.
“Immunotherapy offers a much greater range of options and some people do very well and thankfully we heard in the last few days that Vicky’s progressing really well and its really impacting her spread and the size of her tumour,” she said.