“She has left a legacy” – Tributes pour in for Cervical cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan – TheLiberal.ie – Our News, Your Views

“She has left a legacy” – Tributes pour in for Cervical cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan

Cervical cancer activist Vicky Phelan has died at the age of 48.

She died early this morning at Milford Hospice in Limerick.

Ms. Phelan was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014. In April 2018, she filed a lawsuit in the United States Superior Court worth 2.5 million euros, without admission of liability.

She had had a smear test in 2011 that showed no abnormalities, before her diagnosis three years later.

An internal CervicalCheck audit found the original smear test result to be incorrect. She has travelled to the United States on several occasions to seek treatment.

Her campaign led to the Scally Independent investigation and controversy report in 2018.

She also led to the creation of the 221+ support group and an apology from the state.

In 2019 she wrote a memoir, Overcoming, which became An Post’s Book of the Year and she was named one of the BBC’s 100 Women in 2018.

A documentary about her life titled “Vicky” was recently shown.

Ms Phelan was born in Waterford in 1974 and has lived in Limerick, having always worked in education.

President Michael D. Higgins said that anyone who had the privilege of knowing Ms. Phelan would be impressed by the “powerful inner strength and dignity” with which she faced her illness.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin also paid tribute to Ms. Phelan, calling her a woman of “extraordinary courage and integrity”.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, Martin said she was a woman “who stood up for the women of Ireland, but not just the women of Ireland but women globally”.

Speaking on the same programme, Dr Gabriel Scally said that Ms Phelan stood up for all women in Ireland, adding that he had the privilege of working with her on the research.

According to RTE, Dr Scally added: “In years to come, she will be regarded as having a seminal influence on healthcare in Ireland and changing it towards a much more patient, sensitive and respectful system.”

HSE CEO Stephen Mulvany also expressed his condolences to her family.

“It is with great sadness that I learned this morning of Vicky Phelan’s passing. My deepest condolences to Vicky’s family,” reports RTE.

Without Vicky Phelan, people may never have known about the CervicalCheck controversy.

In her agreement with the High Court in April 2018, a key element was that she would not accept a confidentiality clause.

As a result, hundreds of women learned that they, too, had been let down by the state.

From her case, it emerged that several other slides of women had been reviewed during the audit and were found to be false negatives.

The group has grown to 221 people. There have been a large number of High Court settlements since then. Unfortunately, there have been a number of deaths in women who had cervical cancer.

Vicky Phelan’s death is a terrible loss for her family and friends.

She was a national figure and campaigned tirelessly despite having terminal cancer.

Vicky Phelan has also traveled to the United States on several occasions to receive treatments to help extend her life.

Her work led to the 2018 Scally Independent Inquiry into the CervicalCheck dispute that recommended sweeping changes.

She was also honored with the Freedom of Limerick for her work in the field.

In October 2019, there was a state apology from then taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, to women and families affected by cervical screening test failures.

Vicky Phelan fought authority and broke the boundaries of patient advocacy.

She will be remembered as a brave woman who fights for the truth, even fighting for her life.

Hopefully her legacy is a better national cervical cancer screening program for Irish women.

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