'My tumours have shrunk and I'm not in pain', says Vicky after €8k treatment
Doctors for Vicky Phelan have told her that there is "significant shrinkage" in her tumours - and she has also said that she is "no longer in pain".
Ms Phelan, who brought the CervicalCheck scandal to light, was speaking on RTE Radio One yesterday afternoon when she revealed an update on her health.
Ms Phelan said that she had a CT scan earlier this week and had taken a call from her oncologist, David Fennelly.
"My doctor said, 'this is absolutely fantastic news, you won't believe it... there is significant shrinkage in your tumours'," she said.
The mother (43) told Ray D'Arcy she received the call in her sister's salon while she was preparing for a party she was hosting in Mullinavat featuring her favourite band, The Stunning.
She spoke about the fear she felt about the call: "When I saw his number coming up on the phone I went, 'Oh Jesus, do I really want to answer this?'
"You know, because I had been looking forward to The Stunning's gig for many weeks, it's really what's been keeping me going."
Ms Phelan said the fear quickly turned to joy when Dr Fennelly shared the good news, which she was ecstatic to be able to share with her sister and friends.
"It couldn't have been a better time really to get that news. There was mascara running down faces, make-up being touched up, but you know, it was worth it," she said.
Ms Phelan has been on a drug called Pembrolizumab since April after the HSE agreed to cover the costs.
The drug, which she gets every three weeks, costs more than €8,000 for every dose.
However, after only three doses there has been shrinkage and Ms Phelan said she is no longer in pain.
"My stomach has gone down, I'm not in pain anymore. I can sleep in a bed again - they're all things that for me, straight away, I knew it had to be working," she said.
Ms Phelan explained how her results are not only beneficial to her case, but for others diagnosed with cancer as well.
"[Dr Fennelly] has been campaigning to try and get access to this drug, Pembrolizumab, for some of his patients with cervical cancer for about two years now," she said.
According to Ms Phelan, the drug has been licensed since early 2014, but her doctor has not been able to get access to it for his other patients facing a similar diagnosis.
"It took nine weeks of blood, sweat and tears to be honest of fighting for this drug and getting TDs on the case," she said.
"When you are put in a situation like mine, when you are given a terminal diagnosis and nobody gives you any hope, you'll do whatever you have to do to get the drug if you think it's going to work."
On Tuesday, Ms Phelan said that she backed the inquiry into the CervicalCheck scandal and that she "has faith in" the man in charge of leading the investigation.
She has met with Dr Gabriel Scally and said: "I know that he trusts my opinion and I trust him."
Meanwhile, the tragic toll of women who developed cervical cancer after getting a wrong smear test is set to rise, after it emerged an audit of 46 more cases notified to CervicalCheck is now under way.
Around 12 of these women will know soon if the failure to pick up abnormalities in their smear test was due to the limitations of screening or due to an error being made in a laboratory.
The revelation was made by the HSE at the Public Accounts Committee yesterday.
Health officials faced another angry round of questions, prompting Labour TD Alan Kelly to accuse some officials of "multiple arse-covering".
HSE director Damian McCallion said: "As those audits are concluded women will be contacted."
Separately there is an examination of the 1,600 cervical cancer cases which were only notified to CervicalCheck by the National Cancer Registry in recent weeks.