Sunday 27 May 2018

Daughter 'devastated' as mother dies after inaccurate cervical cancer smear just months before her wedding

Grace Rattigan with family
Grace Rattigan with family
Catherine Reck's daughter Grace Rattigan pictured with her daughter
Grace's beloved mum Catherine Reck

Kyle Ewald and Rachel Farrell

A HEARTBROKEN woman whose mother died after receiving inaccurate smear test results has said she was "devastated" that her mum wasn't alive to see her get married.

Grace Rattigan's mother Catherine Reck went for a routine smear test in November 2010 and the results didn't show a cause for alarm at first but just ten months  later she was diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer.

Last week Grace and her family discovered Catherine was one of 18 women who died without knowing that the results of their CervicalCheck screenings were incorrect.

Grace was originally supposed to tie the knot in Spain in August 2012 but when Catherine became unwell she moved her big day froward to July 2012, and changed the venue to Enfield in Co Meath in the hope her beloved mother could be there.

Grace's beloved mum Catherine Reck
Grace's beloved mum Catherine Reck

It wasn't to be as Catherine tragically passed away on April 13, 2012 at the age of 48.

Speaking on The Ray D'Arcy Show on RTE Radio One, Grace said: “I still tried to plan the wedding, we were going to get special chairs and the hotel were like ‘We can do anything for you, she can have a room for the day’,” she explained.

Following her mother’s passing, Ms Rattigan said that while her wedding was still a special day but it was a bittersweet experience.

She said: “Everybody was really respectful to the situation and it was a good day, well it wasn’t really the day I wanted and it never will be.”

Catherine Reck's daughter Grace Rattigan pictured with her daughter
Catherine Reck's daughter Grace Rattigan pictured with her daughter

When the news about the cervical cancer test misreadings broke, Grace said she tried to distance herself from the situation at first.

Speaking to Independent.ie earlier this week, Grace said: “I had seen something was going on but I took myself away from it at the start. It wasn't until last Tuesday when I got a news bulletin on my phone to say '17 women are dead' that I called my dad and told him we had to get in touch with Cervical Check just in case.”

Grace said that she and her family got in contact with CervicalCheck and were invited to Tallaght Hospital last week to speak with Catherine’s doctor.

"We were brought into a colposcopy examination room with the doctor that originally diagnosed Catherine. The nurse was empathetic, but the doctor was almost shaking.

Grace Rettigan and family
Grace Rettigan and family

"She knew she was the one that withheld the information from us after our mother died. It was the way we were dealt with it, that unit was not somewhere I wanted to be. By the time we got into that room we were seething with anger."

Grace and her family were told that the doctors were informed of the test discrepancies in 2016 and questioned why they weren’t told straight away.

"My dad asked them 'who found this out?'. She said she felt that maybe we wouldn't want to know since my mam had already passed. But it isn't their choice to morally make.

"They didn't not tell us to protect us, they hid it to protect themselves."

Despite the discrepancies with her mother’s smear test that cost her life, Grace said she hopes women will still continue to regularly checked. She started a blog a year and a half ago to encourage women to get their smears.

"I still have faith in the system, I speak to women every day that have had abnormalities that were resolved.

"Something needs to be reformed, particularly the process in which it's done and how people are dealt with. I would hate to see the smear uptake stop, I can't stress enough how important it is that people still need to get smears.

"We're not out for blood or attention, we're not those type of people. We just want change, we just don’t what any more women or families to go through what Catherine did."

A HSE spokesperson told Independent.ie that they cannot comment on individual cases.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News