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'Buying time' Campaigner Vicky Phelan reveals she has a new tumour and is exploring treatment options

Vicky says she will now have to consider other treatment options and take a step back from campaigning due to the progression of her illness.

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Vicky Phelan, the cancer patient whose case triggered the cervical smear test controversy (PA)

Vicky Phelan, the cancer patient whose case triggered the cervical smear test controversy (PA)

Vicky Phelan, the cancer patient whose case triggered the cervical smear test controversy (PA)

Cervical cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan has revealed she is dealing with a new tumour for the first time in over two years and says she will look for other treatments to help prolong her life.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Vicky said a new tumour was discovered on her lung over two weeks ago.

“I have a lot of tumours. My cancer was never gone; it has just been stable. What has happened in the last few weeks is that I have a new tumour. It is the first time I have had a new tumour in two-and-a-half years. I’ve a new tumour in my lung, it is quite small, but it does mean I have to start looking at other options and unfortunately with this cancer; there aren’t many.

“For the past two years I have just been trying to find treatments that will keep me alive for as long as possible as there is no cure. All I am doing is that I am buying time - that’s why I feel so strongly on this issue,” Vicky said while speaking about the beginning of the Cervical Check tribunal.

Vicky says she will now have to consider other treatment options and take a step back from campaigning due to the progression of her illness. She says the motivation to not having other women go through what she is going through keeps her going.

“I often wonder why I am spending all my time doing this when I could be spending it with my children. What if I have only 12 months or so left. This [campaigning] helps me, though. You don’t want to be dwelling on it too much and I still feel well, that’s the thing. As soon as this tribunal issue is sorted, I am probably going to have to take a step back and focus on my own health.

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Vicky Phelan

Vicky Phelan

Vicky Phelan

“When you have a platform like I do, I have to try and use it for as much good as possible. This is an issue that affects women with young families or women that never had the chance to have a family so why wouldn’t I do as much as I can to try and help as many women as I can to not go through what I am going through,” she said.

Ms Phelan said she was very disappointed the tribunal began when it did despite getting reassurances just a day earlier from Health Minister Stephen Donnelly that it would be pause

“We feel we should have been notified earlier. The clock is ticking on the tribunal since midnight last Tuesday night and we were only notified at 6pm that day. It shouldn’t have happened. We were given assurances on the Monday, the day before, that he would pause the tribunal. So, it was very disappointing to us that the order had been assigned and it couldn’t be stopped."

Ms Phelan says she wants an amendment added so that survivors of the Cervical Check scandal can go back to the tribunal and get further costs should their illness return.

“Tribunals that have been established before, allowed that for the people affected that if their illness came back, they were able to go back to the tribunal to get further costs. We know from cervical cancer that if it comes back, it is fatal. It’s as simple as that.

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“We have seen it with Ruth Morrissey and with Emma Mhic Mhathúna, and I’m going to see it - my cancer is back and I am only just buying time. I’m going to die, I know that.

"We know this is a cancer that women do not survive if it comes back and that is all we are asking for. If women who are in remission and cancer-free, if their cancer returns, that they can go back [to the tribunal] if their cancer comes back.

“There are ways and means that the State can do this but they just don’t want to. There’s no willingness there, as far as we can see,” Ms Phelan said.

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