| 6.6°C Dublin

'Women being hunted into the grave', claims cancer campaigner


Minister Stephen Donnelly

Minister Stephen Donnelly

Minister Stephen Donnelly

Women are being "hunted into the grave" by the State, a leading CervicalCheck campaigner has claimed after a court was told of the "really desperate" case of a terminally-ill cancer patient.

Lorraine Walsh, of the 221 support group, was commenting after the High Court heard the 41-year-old unnamed woman may not "make it", even if her action against the HSE and a US laboratory is brought forward to be heard in the next few weeks.

The claimant is receiving palliative care and was recently told her chemotherapy has not been successful. She has also had to have surgery for a clot.

"Who's going to be next? It's shocking. How many women are going to fight their way until they're dead? Women are being hunted into the grave," Ms Walsh said.

She added that the group is seeking a meeting with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to get assurances on the long- delayed CervicalCheck trib- unal and other issues.

The latest case comes days after the death of Ruth Morrissey, the 39-year-old Limerick mother who endured a marathon court ordeal while seriously ill with cervical cancer.

Barrister Patrick Treacy applied yesterday for an earlier date for the hearing of the terminally-ill woman's action, which had been fixed for mid-September.

Counsel said the woman is extremely ill and "the situation is really desperate".

It was indicated to the court last year that she had between nine and 18 months to live.

Mr Treacy asked that the case be rescheduled for September 1, and said the woman's legal team is seriously concerned "she won't make it" to that date.


Mr Treacy said she is now further at risk of cancer recurrence, and an expert on her side said it could "gallop through her".

The woman's legal team had sought mediation of her case, but was told the defendants are not ready.

Her evidence may have to be taken on commission in advance of the scheduled hearing, but she has been so ill that it has not been possible to examine the possibility with her.

The woman and her partner have sued the HSE and US laboratory Quest Diagnostics Incorporated.

It is claimed she had a cervical smear test in June 2016 under the national cervical screening programme, and it was tested in a Quest Diagnostics lab and came back negative for malignancy or lesion.

She was advised in a letter a few weeks later that the test had detected no abnormalities.

In 2018, it is further claimed, she had another smear test, which came back from the laboratory as negative for lesion or malignancy.

In a letter in February last year, she was told that smear test detected no abnormalities.

She was diagnosed in July last year with stage two cancer and underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Last April, she was diagnosed with metastatic disease in her lungs and lymph nodes.

The woman claims she was deprived of the opportunity of a timely and effective investigation and management of her condition and of the opportunity of treatment at a time when her disease, she says, was amenable to curative treatment.