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'Two years is what’s being given but I don’t accept that because I’m a very positive person'

Ruth Morrissey said she was relieved that her court case was over and the labs were found accountable.

Image: LEAH FARRELL

RUTH MORRISSEY WHO won a High Court case this week over the misreading of her smear test results said she is relieved the labs involved were held accountable. 

The case involving the CervicalCheck programme was the first to be brought to the courts and have evidence heard which lead to a final court ruling. 

Other cases involving Vicky Phelan and Emma Mhic Mhatúna were settled between parties involved. 

Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul were awarded €2.1 million in damages by the judge on Friday. 

Speaking on the Sunday with Miriam programme on RTÉ Radio One, she said the case was “tough” to go through but she was relieved at the outcome. 

“I’d like to say it was really exciting, I think it was more of a relief,” she said. 

“I think the win for me was more around the labs and we won against them, and that was the main thing for me.

“I’d like to say we kind of jumped up around, and think ‘oh this is fantastic’ but it was just a relief that, finally, the labs were found to be responsible and accountable for negligence on the slides.

“It was tough to go through but I think it was something that needed to be done eventually anyway, with what was coming behind me,” she added. 

When test results concerns first came to light, she said she felt she was “left in limbo, we didn’t know where to turn,” prompting her to contact her solicitor for advice. 

“There was just so many unanswered questions and worries, from a female perspective, from a family perspective,” she said. 

“I just said to Paul do you want press ahead with this and we both just agreed to do it.”

In 2009 and 2012, the Limerick woman attended her routine examinations under the CervicalCheck programme and received a letter on both occasions advising there had been no abnormalities found. 

In 2014, symptoms developed and it was later discovered she had developed cervical cancer. 

The results of an audit from the labs responsible for testing the slides revealed there were a number of incorrect test results, including Morrissey’s tests, and more than 200 other women. 

“Last year, I was told about the audit. When we were given the results, we were told that the 2009 smear would have made a significant difference in my health and that was shocking.

“I would have expected one smear, but to sit down and see two smears – you’re shaking your head saying that that’s unbelievable, how unlucky could I be.”

The mum-of-one has since been given a terminal diagnosis and has been told she has two years to live. 

“Two years is what’s being given but I don’t accept that because I’m a very positive person, so I’ll strive to try to find something out there that will help.

“It’s inoperable, it’s making very difficult side effects right now for me, in terms of my mobility to walk,” she said.

“What happened was, even though I responded well to the treatment last year… [the tumour] kind of latched on to the bone and muscles and is calcifying.

“So it’s kind of eating away at the muscle and the bone which is giving the side effects on my mobility to walk.”

Other women like Vicky Phelan, who was the first woman to take a high court case over the CervicalCheck scandal, and who settled the case for €2.5m, has sought alternative treatments to mitigate the effects of the cancer. 

Phelan has been on a treatment involving drug Pembrolizumab (Pembro) and has been campaigning for the drug to be made widely available, crediting it with adding years on to her life. 

Morrissey, however, said she doesn’t know if that drug would work in her own case as she is still undergoing treatment for breast cancer. 

“Maybe down the line Pembro could be an option for me, I don’t know if it is, we have to wait and see as time proceeds. 

Angry

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar previously said none of the 221+ women identified in the cervical check audit would have to sit through a court case and give evidence again. 

Morrissey said she was angry that she still had to face a trial over the misreading of her smear tests but said the companies involved had a right to defend themselves too.  

“I was angry, but when I think about it realistically, when you go through your emotional rollercoaster and you think back [...] you think he made a promise that he couldn’t keep. 

“He had a lot of empathy but he was kind of convinced himself that it was an option for us.

“But when I stepped back after a couple of days and thought about it, they actually have a right to defend themselves in a court case just as well as I do. 

“So after a couple of days, I kind of stepped back and went ‘cop on Ruth, this is going to go to trial’.”

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