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Saturday 24 August 2019

'I won't let my cancer beat me', vows brave Ruth after €2.1m Cervical Check win

Ruth Morrissey speaking outside court following her win. Pic: Collins
Ruth Morrissey speaking outside court following her win. Pic: Collins

Inspirational CervicalCheck campaigner Ruth Morrissey has said she is determined "not to let cancer win".

Ms Morrissey, who has been diagnosed with terminal breast and ovarian cancer, hopes to overcome the disease with the support of her "rock" - her husband Paul - and their seven-year-old daughter Libby.

The Morrisseys, of Monaleen, Co Limerick, were awarded €2.1m by the High Court in a landmark action last week after they sued the HSE and two US laboratories over the misreading of her cervical smear slides in 2009 and 2012.

It was the first fully contested action relating to the CervicalCheck controversy.

Speaking to Miriam O'Callaghan on RTE Radio One yesterday, Ms Morrissey said of the ruling: "I would love to say it was really exciting, but it was more of a relief.

Negligence

"The win for me was more against the labs and winning against them, that was the main thing for me.

"I'd like to say we jumped up and down, but it was more of a relief to know the labs were being held accountable and responsible for negligence."

Ms Morrissey admitted the case had been "tough", but said she felt it important to highlight what had happened to her.

"It was tough to go through, but it was something that needed to be done eventually for what was coming behind me," she said.

"It gave an opportunity to unfold an element of what people might not be aware of - that the HSE is responsible for the contracts and overall programme itself. From that perspective, it was very, very important.

"It happened so quickly, in the middle of my treatment, when we found out that I was one of the ladies impacted. We were kind of left in limbo.

"We'd nobody to turn to and there was nobody to answer questions for us. We felt the only person who had answers was Cian, my solicitor."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar previously said women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy would not have to go through the courts.

"I was angry, but when I think about it realistically, he made a promise idealistically that he couldn't keep," said Ms Morrissey.

"I'm sure he was convinced it was an option for us, but they have a right to defend themselves in court, just as we do.

"After sitting back and thinking about it, I knew then that my case would be the one to go."

Ms Morrissey hopes to be treated in future with Pembrolizumab, a drug that fellow CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan says shrunk her tumours by 50pc.

However, she is not sure if it will be suitable for her.

"I don't know if that's an option for me," she said.

"We haven't gone down that route yet because I went for alternative options that were available.

"I had breast cancer as well, so it's a different situation as I had two cancer strains. Pembrolizumab is designed for your immune system and it wouldn't know which strain to attack.

Decisions

"I have compartmentalised everything into sections like a project. I had to deal with the breast cancer first and then the cervical cancer and then go back to the breast again.

"I had to see how I could deal with both. There were massive decisions, such as having a double mastectomy, but once I have the breast dealt with, hopefully I can see if Pembrolizumab is an option for me."

Ms Morrissey added that she now wants to make the most of her time with her family.

"Libby is amazing, from her head to her toes," she said.

"I love her to infinity and beyond, she's my best friend, she keeps us going. We're a family unit of three, the three of us love each other very, very much.

"We do everything together, we go to the cinema, walks, films."

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