Vicky Phelan will be taking a back seat from her relentless campaigning as she has been accused of "bringing down the cervical screening program" responsible for the scandal.
The brave Limerick mother who was the first to expose the cancer screening scandal has said she is taking a break from campaigning due to the lack of empathy shown towards affected women and their families.
Phelan announced her decision on Twitter ahead of a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
I will be taking a break from Twitter and from all #CervicalCheckScandal campaigning after tomorrow, some of you will be glad to know. I am deeply disturbed by the lack of empathy in some quarters towards the women & families affected by the scandal.— Vicky Phelan (@PhelanVicky) July 31, 2018
I can only speak for myself here. For those of you who are condemning me for 'bringing down the cervical screening programme', I never missed a smear and NEVER had an abnormal smear until I was diagnosed in July 2014 with invasive cervical cancer— Vicky Phelan (@PhelanVicky) July 31, 2018
I found out THREE years later, in Sept 2017, that a smear from 2011, which was originally read as No Abnormality Detected' was, when audited, full of CANCER, not pre-cancerour CINI, II or III but Squamous Cell Carcinoma. P8 for the medical heads.— Vicky Phelan (@PhelanVicky) July 31, 2018
IF my smear in 2011 had been CORRECTLY read, I would only have had to have a hysterectomy and would have had a 90% chance of being cured. I will be fighting to stay alive for the rest of my life so forgive me if I am angry and upset and fighting for change.— Vicky Phelan (@PhelanVicky) July 31, 2018
I WANT a screening programme that I can trust. I have a daughter that I will be leaving behind. So get off your high horses and help me to change and to ensure that we have a screening programme that we CAN trust.— Vicky Phelan (@PhelanVicky) July 31, 2018
In response, many Twitter users commended the terminally ill mother-of-two.
"As a health professional...as a Patient advocate...as a Mum,daughter,sister and aunt...Trust in our services is what we should all be working towards. A bit of understanding and empathy for those who have been failed would be really good," Triona Murphy wrote.
Miriam Silke added, "Well said Vicky. I too have been criticised by 'scientists' for 'undermining' the screening programme. My sister - one of the 18 - would not have died in 2016 if her smears had been correctly read. I too want a screening programme my daughter and her 2 daughters can trust."
After meeting with the Taoiseach, Phelan said that she was reassured in relation to the State Claims Agency and mediation.
"The Taoiseach has promised me he meant what he said - the State is going to endeavor to settle all cases through mediation.
"Where mediation doesn't work and labs are contesting, an alternative dispute resolution mechanism will be sculpted out."
Vicky Phelan met the Taoiseach again this afternoon for assurances that victims of the cervical check scandal won’t have to go through the court process. She said she will be back after a break to ensure this happens #vickyphelan #CervicalCheckScandal pic.twitter.com/LU1SxFzQ2I— Gail Conway (@Gailiana) August 1, 2018
Phelan was also told that letters of consent are "being prepared" for the 221 families affected by the cervical cancer smear check scandal. However, she was given "no indication as to how long that will take".