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I'm gravely ill with cancer but at least my girls will now get vaccine

A DUBLIN mum, gravely ill with cervical cancer, is delighted that her daughters will receive the cancer vaccine after her courageous campaign.

Michelle Fitzpatrick (42), originally from the Liberties, had been pleading with Health Minister Mary Harney to introduce the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines urgently, to wipe out the plight of thousands of women in Ireland.

Following the minister's U-turn on the vaccine, Michelle told the Herald she had great hope that her daughters would not share her fate.



Worried

"I'm delighted, I'm just over the moon. At least now my girls will have it, even though it's not till they're in first year, but still it's a good year because it's well in time [to prevent the cancer].

"I know my girls would never have been able to afford it for themselves and for their children, unless they won the lotto," she added.

The gravely ill woman said she had worried constantly for the future of her two youngest daughters Mia (10) and two-year-old Gemma.

"It was a big worry. I didn't have the money and it would have cost me €1,200 for my two girls. It's a big relief.

"I got a few calls from my family and friends who were letting me know straight away. I was going to go out on the Friday night to celebrate but I couldn't."

Michelle is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment for her cancer in a final bid to stay alive, and she is warning young girls to follow up on the vaccines with checkups in the future.

Last Friday, the minister announced that up to 30,000 girls in first year in secondary school will be offered the cervical cancer vaccine from later this year.

The HPV vaccine is instrumental in the fight against cervical cancer because it is almost 100pc effective in preventing the two types of human papilloma viruses that cause 70 per cent of all cervical cancers.

Michelle told the Herald: "I have pestered my doctor to send my children out letters for a smear test and swab tests, and check ups, and he says he will."

The mum-of-five is hoping that she will be able to fight the cancer past the summer, since two of her daughters are expecting babies in May.

"My older daughters Rachel (21) and Amy (17) are having their first children in May and I'm trying my best to hang on for them. I'm frightened I won't be around for Amy because she's so young."

She was due to have her second session of chemotherapy yesterday, since doctors told her that there was no hope of a cure last November.

"I've no hair and my voice seems to be going for no reason over the past few weeks. But the chemo is still going."

hnews@herald.ie