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'I'd rather my children have memories with me and if I go sooner, so be it' - Vicky Phelan

Phelan announced last week that she is stopping chemotherapy to focus on enjoying Christmas with her family.

CERVICAL CANCER CAMPAIGNER Vicky Phelan said last night that she didn’t believe she’d “see Christmas” only a month ago, following her decision to stop chemotherapy. 

Phelan, who has been a vocal campaigner for hundreds of women who were affected by the cervical check scandal, said last week she was receiving end-of-life “palliative care”, and told The Late Late Show that she would rather her children have memories with her over the coming weeks, even if it means a shorter time spent with them. 

“If I go sooner, so be it,” she said, speaking to host Ryan Tubridy. 

“Four weeks ago, I didn’t think I’d see Christmas. That’s how real this is for me at this stage, like I spoke to my oncologist when I made the decision not to have any more chemotherapy, I mean, I think he was hoping I’d have a few more sessions.

“And I just said, no, I’m not doing this to my kids. I’m not doing this to myself at this stage.”

Kilkenny woman Phelan said she does have a “quality of life” at present, following her decision to stop palliative chemotherapy, and said she has been bolstered in her hopes to spend her remaining time with her children, 16-year-old Amelia and ten-year-old Darragh.

She explained that she received a message from one woman in particular which has stuck with her.

“She told me her she was ten when her mother died, so the same age as what my son is now. All I have are memories of my mother, are her being thrown in bed, sick and suffering and she said I think what you’re doing is so brave.

“She said I would rather have had a shorter time with my mother but more quality and I just think, you know, those kinds of messages to me really validate what I’m doing.

“For me, it’s the right thing, and I know it’s not for everybody, but for me, I just think no, I would rather my children have memories of doing stuff with me and if I go sooner, so be it.”

Phelan was instrumental in exposing the cervical check controversy, after launching a High Court case against a US laboratory over incorrect smear test results from 2011.

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In 2018, Phelan settled high court proceedings against a US laboratory Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, Austin, Texas, after receiving a false negative result for a 2011 smear test. In a 2014 audit, a number of smear tests were found to be incorrect.

Phelan received a terminal cancer diagnosis in 2014 but she was not informed of the smear test review until 2017.

The settlement against the lab was made without admission of liability.

She announced two years ago that she would be stepping back from campaigning to focus on her health. 

With reporting by Zuzia Whelan

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