herald

Saturday 22 September 2018

I'm furious at scandal Vicky has exposed

Vicky Phelan
Vicky Phelan

Not all heroes wear capes. Mother- of-two Vicky Phelan's courage has captured all our hearts with her stance against the Government.

She refused to be strong-armed into signing a confidentiality agreement to keep her silence when she was so badly wronged by the system.

Instead, with a diagnosis of terminal cancer, she is using her limited time to campaign for other women.

Her story makes me so sad. It makes me angry and, of course, selfishly worried about my own health.

I had my white cells checked at the end of last year. They all came back normal. I was thrilled. Now I'm thinking, do I need to do it all over again?

Cried

Two months ago, I wrote a piece urging women to get a smear test.

I asked that women overcome the embarrassment of having to take off their pants, lie on their backs and flop open their knees so someone can have a poke around at their privates.

Little did I know of the scandal that was about to break.

As with the rest of the nation, I cried watching Vicky Phelan on The Ray D'Arcy Show.

Seeing her little fist-pump at hearing the news that CervicalCheck's clinical director Dr Grainne Flannelly had resigned her position was a mini victory.

However, handing in her notice to the HSE isn't enough.

Surely for withholding information from those 162 women who had cancer, there should be some form of punishment.

While I applaud Vicky's determination to expose this cancer screening nightmare, I do hope the gruelling interviews haven't taken too much out of her.

Making yourself open to a publicity campaign is exhausting for those in full health, so I can't imagine how hard it has been on Vicky.

Let's hope her efforts can bring about great change.

Health Minister Simon Harris is making all the right noises, but as the emergency helpline (1800 45 45 55) continues to ring off the hook for many concerned women, I'm worried that it will be too late for many more.

I say worried, but I'm probably more angry at the fact that, once again, women get treated like crap in this country.

I know it's boring now, but it's true.

Let's walk through this story again. While it was first touted that three women had died as a result of a wrongful diagnosis, the idea that 17 died is mind-blowing.

If there were that many deaths as a result of a mass shooting or a multi-car crash, there would be a national day of mourning and Michael D would be laying a wreath somewhere.

Instead, Dr Flannelly resigns and we're all supposed to be OK with it, like that's justice.

Think about 17 people, make that 17 women, standing in your kitchen. It's a lot, isn't it? Then think of those women dead.

It sounds like something out of a horror movie, but it's not.

I know May Day was yesterday, but I feel like screaming it now.

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