Court battle | 

Brave mum (35) with terminal cancer says receiving an apology meant so much to her

"When I got what I believe was a genuine apology off the hospital, not a generic one, that really made the whole legal journey worth it," Eileen Rushe has said.

Eileen Rushe

Ciara O'Loughlin

A 35-year-old mother with terminal cervical cancer said receiving an apology from her hospital admitting liability means so much to her.

On Tuesday, Eileen Rushe, the mother of a 14-year-old boy, received a letter of apology after settling her action against the HSE.

The mother-of-one said if her diagnosis was caught when it should’ve been, she would have had a 90pc chance of survival.

However, Ms Rushe said she was thankful for the genuine apology because so many women before her have had the “polar opposite” experience.

She said as a woman she doubted herself for a long time, and even wondered was there more she could’ve done to make sure she’d be around for her son Séamus.

In the letter to court, the general manager of Louth County Hospital, Dundalk, on behalf of the Colposcopy Unit and hospital management offered “my most sincere apology to you for the failings which occurred while you were under our care”.

The manager went on: “I understand that this has had the most serious consequences for you and for that I wish to offer you and your family my heartfelt apologies.”

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1’s Sunday with Miriam, Ms Rushe said: “When this all started with my solicitor he set my expectations very low that maybe we wouldn't get an apology.

“As a woman, I think we always doubt ourselves and for a long time I felt had I done something differently, would I be here for Seamus?

“So, when I got what I believe was a genuine apology off the hospital, not a generic one, that really made the whole legal journey worth it.

"There's also the financial element that will help my care and also my parents who will ultimately mind Séamus.”

In 2017, Ms Rushe’s son lost his father John after he died from sudden adult death syndrome related to epilepsy. “It was very unexpected,” she said. “That’s enough for one child.”

Unlike many women with cervical cancer who have took on cases against the HSE, the 35-year-old’s smear test did present abnormal, however, it was claimed from May 2017 that there was a failure to diagnose or refer Ms Rushe to the appropriate specialist for the purpose of diagnosing cervical cancer.

Thus, it was claimed cytological cell changes went untreated until December 2018 when she was diagnosed with stage 3 invasive cervical cancer.

Ms Rushe said if she was diagnosed a year earlier, things could have been very different.

"(I was diagnosed) on December 18, 2018, so that's what the liability was,” she said.

"If different treatment had been administered, it was actually on my birthday in 2017 that it should have been, if it was and it was done differently it would've given me a 90pc chance of survival.”

The mother, from Termonfeckin, Co Louth, was given the all-clear in summer 2019, but unfortunately, a year later was given the devastating diagnosis that the cancer was back, it spread and it was aggressive.

"It was September and my sister was allowed to come with me and at the time no one was allowed in the hospitals so I felt I wasn’t getting good news,” she said.

"It was devastating- they weren’t using the words cure anymore they were using the word control.

“At the time the phrase ‘we are hoping it won’t be weeks’ was used, so that was heartbreaking.”

Despite receiving this news, Ms Rushe said she is determined to stay positive and that she still lives in hope with goals.

"I’m still living in hope and my aim is to see Séamus through secondary school, I would love that but no one knows what the future holds,” she said.

"It’s very easy to be negative and I feel all the women should get apologies where there is wrong and the wording of some of them are less than… but my case with the HSE, I found they admitted liability and gave me a genuine apology.

“But, I had a polar opposite experience to many other women who have gone through it before me.”

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