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'I hope restarting the cancer screening will be made a priority as soon as they can'

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Plea: Eileen Rushe urged anyone with concerns to seek help

Plea: Eileen Rushe urged anyone with concerns to seek help

Plea: Eileen Rushe urged anyone with concerns to seek help

Eileen Rushe, who celebrates the first anniversary of being cancer free this week, is thankful to screening for detecting the disease.

The mother of one, from Termonfeckin, Co Louth, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in December 2018 after going through CervicalCheck the previous July and getting an abnormal smear test which led to treatment.

She was referred for more investigations in a colposcopy unit and it was found she had a tumour.

"I ended up having 26 sessions of radiotherapy, five sessions of brachytherapy and chemotherapy.

"It was high intensity for six and half weeks. I was finished with the treatment in March," she said.

She added she is concerned at the decision to pause CervicalCheck tests and the other screening programmes due to the risks of Covid-19 transmission.

"I understand the need to ensure that it must be done safely for everyone but I hope it will be made a priority to restart the programmes as soon as they can with safeguards."

Ms Rushe added: "I don't think the CervicalCheck system is flawless, but the reassurance is that there has been such a magnifying glass on it due to the 2018 controversy."

It meant that there was also a big public focus on cervical screening which led to more women coming forward for tests and "I would hate to see that momentum lost", she added.

It also picks up pre-cancerous changes that have the potential to turn into cancer if left untreated for some time, which would have human and financial costs.

She said another casualty of the disruption caused by Covid-19 is the failure to give a second dose of the HPV vaccine in schools this year.

Her son Seamus (13) received his first dose in September but the second jab has been postponed, although it is expected that the vaccines will be administered in schools in the next academic year.

CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan is strongly urging that no time should be lost in resuming screening.

A backlog of women has now built up and the plan is to use HPV testing in labs when it resumes. This is seen as more accurate than a cytology test.

Ms Rushe urged anyone who has worries or concerns to contact the Irish Cancer Society Nurseline on 1800 200 700.

Irish Independent