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'She couldn't stay awake at the end' - Husband speaks of pain of wife's loss following cervical misdiagnosis

Julie Dingivan passed away in April 2017. The cervical check which missed her cancer diagnosis took place in 2009.
Jul 23rd 2018, 10:31 PM 93,243 14

Paul & Julie Dingivan Julie Dingavan and husband Paul on their wedding day

THE HUSBAND OF a Cork woman who lost her life following a missed diagnosis of cervical cancer has spoken of his and his family’s loss as the fallout from the cervical check scandal continues.

Julie Dingivan died in April of 2017, seven years after her initial cervical smear returned a false clear result.

She was just 36.

Speaking to the Neil Prendiville Show on Cork’s Red FM, husband Paul Dingivan, who struggled to control his emotions throughout the interview, told of how Julie’s cancer was first diagnosed in 2013, which led to her having a radical hysterectomy while pregnant with the couple’s second child – a pregnancy the couple only discovered after Julie’s cancer diagnosis.

In the wake of the hysterectomy, Julie was given her the all clear. Her cancer sadly returned in 2015, something Paul said his wife “took hard at first”, before focusing on how she could go about beating her illness.

Unfortunately, despite treatment, Julie’s condition worsened.

During her final two weeks she couldn’t stay awake for more than a few minutes at a time, leading to Paul, who was so overcome he cut the interview short, contemplating the taking of his own life.

“My family knew I didn’t want to do this without her,” Paul said.

She just couldn’t stay awake. We couldn’t keep her awake for more than a minute or two. But when I left the hospital she kept calling me to come back. She rang me and left a voicemail on my phone.

He said that his wife told him that no matter what he must continue working in order to provide for their daughter Ali, who was born in 2011.

Paul Dingivan & Ali Paul Dingivan and daughter Ali

Julie Dingavan was one of the 17 women affected by cervical check scandal who are known to have died as a result of a missed cancer diagnosis.

To date, 221 women are known to have been affected to some degree by the scandal, which saw instances of possible cancerous anomalies not picked up by the various laboratories that served to analyse the test samples.

On 2 May this year, Paul was asked to attend St Finbarr’s hospital in Cork in order to speak to Julie’s doctor, who informed him that his wife was one of the women caught up in the scandal.

Julie only found out that her cancer was untreatable two weeks before she died.

Beforehand she had pleaded with her physicians to operate to remove her cancer, but was informed that nothing could be done due to the complexity of her illness.

Paul was with Julie when she died, and fell asleep with her in his arms.

“We spoke. She stayed awake for about 20 minutes, and every time she woke up we’d speak some more,” he said.

I told her not to keep fighting. And they woke me up and told me that she was gone.

“She never felt sorry for herself,” said Paul. “She always was just looking for an answer.”

If you need to talk, contact:

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.ie

  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)

  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie – (suicide, self-harm)

  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)

  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

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Cianan Brennan

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