Cervical cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan dies aged 48
Vicky Phelan, a vocal opponent of cervical cancer, has passed away.
She passed away in Milford Hospice in Co. Limerick at a young age of 48, surrounded by her family.
The woman from Kilkenny brought attention to the controversy surrounding the national screening program CervicalCheck, in which she and other women were kept in the dark about the fact that the cervical cancer smear test results that had previously indicated they were cancer-free were actually false and that the revised test results from an audit had been withheld from them for years.
She reached a settlement with Clinical Pathology Labs, a US laboratory that had been subcontracted by the CervicalCheck national screening program to evaluate the smear test results, in a High Court action for €2.5 million without admitting fault.
“The women of Ireland can no longer place their trust in the CervicalCheck programme,” Ms Phelan said following the settlement. “Mistakes can and do happen, but the behaviour of CervicalCheck and the HSE in my case, and the situation of at least 10 other women we know about, is unforgivable.”
She had a smear test in 2011, which revealed no abnormalities, but in 2014, cervical cancer was discovered. She had a false positive on her initial smear test, as revealed by a subsequent CervicalCheck audit. In the case settlement, she refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
Charlie Bird, who recently grew to be friends with Ms. Phelan, expressed his brokenness. He said, “She has given me amazing support over the last year to combat my terminal disease. “At the loss of this magnificent person, the entire nation ought to be in mourning. My heart is shattered. My idol has vanished.
She was the oldest of five children when she was born Victoria Kelly on October 28, 1974, in Mooncoin, County Kilkenny.
She went to school in Mooncoin before enrolling in the University of Limerick to pursue an arts degree in European studies and beginning a long relationship with the institution.
She expanded the university’s exchange program into one of the biggest Erasmus programs in the State while working for the division of foreign education at the institution.
Later, Ms. Phelan relocated to Waterford Institute of Technology, where she served as the program’s director for literacy development.
Her husband Jim, as well as her kids Amelia and Darragh, survive her.