Sunday 24 June 2018

'There is significant shrinkage in your tumours' - Vicky Phelan shares positive update from her doctor

Vicky Phelan Photo: Fergal Phillips
Vicky Phelan Photo: Fergal Phillips

Kyle Ewald and Sean Nolan

Doctors for Vicky Phelan have told her that there is 'significant shrinkage' in her tumours and she has also said that she is 'no longer in pain anymore'.

Ms Phelan, who brought the CervicalCheck scandal to light, was speaking on RTÉ Radio 1's Ray D'Arcy show this afternoon when she revealed an update on her health.

Ms Phelan said that she had a CT scan earlier this week and yesterday she took a call from her oncologist David Fennelly.

"My doctor said this is absolutely fantastic news, you won't believe it... There is significant shrinkage in your tumours," she told the show.

The 43-year-old mother said she received the call in her sister’s salon while she was preparing for a party she was hosting in Mullinavat featuring her favourite band, The Stunning. 

She spoke about about the fear she felt when she first saw her oncologist’s number appear on her phone: “When I saw his number coming up on the phone I went, ‘Oh Jesus do I really want to answer this?’

“You know, because I had been looking forward to The Stunning gig for many weeks, it’s really what’s been keeping me going.”

Ms Phelan said the fear quickly turned to joy when Dr Fennelly shared the good news, which she was ecstatic to be able to share with her sister and friends immediately after. 

“It couldn’t have been a better time really to get that news. There was mascara running down faces, make up being touched up, but you know, it was worth it.”

Ms Phelan has been on a drug called Pembrolizumab since April after the HSE agreed to cover the costs.

The drug, which she gets every three weeks, costs more than €8,000 for every dose.

However, after only three doses there have been shrinkage and Ms Phelan said she is no longer in pain.

"My stomach has gone down, I'm not in pain anymore," she said. “I can sleep in a bed again—they’re all things that for me straight away I knew it had to be working.”

Ms Phelan explained how her results are not only beneficial to her case, but for others diagnosed with cancer as well: “[Dr. Fennelly] has been campaigning to try and get access to this drug, Pembrolizumab, for some of his patients with cervical cancer for about two years now.”

According to Ms Phelan, the drug has been licensed since early 2014, but her doctor has not been able to get access to it for his other patients facing a similar diagnosis.

She said: “Now, it took nine weeks of blood, sweat and tears to be honest of fighting for this drug and getting TDS on the case.”

“When you are put in a situation like mine, when you are given a terminal diagnosis and nobody gives you any hope, you’ll do whatever you have to do to get the drug if you think it’s going to work.”

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