Wednesday 26 June 2019

Phelan pays sad tribute to 'formidable' cervical cancer victim Adrienne who sued Dutch system

‘Warrior’: Adrienne Cullen receiving her Honorary Doctorate from UCC last month. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
‘Warrior’: Adrienne Cullen receiving her Honorary Doctorate from UCC last month. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Olivia Kelleher

Vicky Phelan has described the loss of a woman who was left with terminal cervical cancer due to medical negligence as "another needless death".

Limerick woman Adrienne Cullen (58), who died on Monday, has been described as a "formidable warrior" after she took on the Dutch health system.

Ms Cullen settled a legal action with a hospital in the Netherlands after it lost scans which showed she had cervical cancer.

She successfully took on the Dutch health system and campaigned for a 'no gagging clause' policy in medical facilities across Europe.

She died at 10.15am on Monday at the Netherlands Cancer Institute.

Ms Cullen was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate in Laws at University College Cork earlier this month.

Her husband Peter Cluskey issued a statement about her death via Twitter. He said his lifelong partner was "appallingly treated" and it "made her a formidable warrior".

He thanked all those who had been loyal and generous to Adrienne, particularly the staff of her former alma mater, UCC, where she was so warmly received at an intimate ceremony on December 10.

He said his wife had a "special steel" and had made a huge difference.

Also reacting online, Ms Phelan, who exposed the CervicalCheck scandal, posted a message to Mr Cluskey offering her sympathies.

"I read about Adrienne's passing yesterday and was floored with sadness," Ms Phelan said.

"Another needless death. I wanted to process how I felt off social media before posting anything. I am so very sorry for your loss Peter Cluskey. Adrienne was a formidable woman," she added.

Professor Padraig G O'Se of UCC said Ms Cullen was "a beautiful, resilient and compassionate person".

An obituary appeared on Dutch media which simply stated: "Staying silent was not an option for Adrienne Cullen."

She first underwent tests in the Netherlands in 2011 after becoming ill. However, she was assured she was healthy.

In 2013, a review of old pathology results found that a test for cancerous tissue which Ms Cullen had had conducted two years earlier had, in fact, been positive.

By 2015, tests showed her cancer had spread and, as a result of delays, was terminal.

An independent medical consultant, agreed on by both sides, concluded if the test result had not been lost, she would have had a 95pc to 98pc chance of being cured.

Earlier this month in Cork she said that she empathised greatly with those affected by the CervicalCheck scandal in Ireland. She said women such as Emma Mhic Mhathúna had much of their lives stolen from them.

"They have been robbed of being able to see their children's birthdays. They have been robbed of Christmas photos, of having family holidays. Of seeing their children grow up. We have all lost so many things like that. Peter [her husband] beside me here is losing me."

Irish Independent

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