VICKY PHELAN will return to her family next week after undergoing six months of experimental immunotherapy in the United States.
CervicalCheck campaigner Ms. Phelan, who is battling terminal cervical cancer after receiving a false-negative Pap smear in 2014, is undergoing experimental cancer treatment in Maryland in the hopes it will give her more time with her family.
She left Ireland in January this year and will return next week, after a complete six-month absence that had both good and bad results; most recently Ms Phelan has suffered from serious side effects of the treatment including Bells Palsy, vomiting and fever, which required hospitalization.
Ms Phelan spoke about RTÉs Sunday with Miriam yesterday where she talked about returning home to her two young children, Darragh and Amelia, whom she hasn’t seen in six months, and admitted she never thought it would take so long to be reunited with family.
“When I came out here in January, I really didn’t think it would be six months before I would see my kids,” she told the program. “I really thought they could come out.”
She said that if she had known in retrospect that the travel restrictions would remain so strict that her family would not be able to visit for the full six months, “I don’t know if I would have come to the US”.
While she will now be able to spend some time with her family in Ireland, Ms Phelan will have to return to the US in the future to continue treatment, and she is concerned that travel restrictions between Ireland and the US will still apply. what she admitted will be “hard”.
“It’s hard,” she said, adding that it’s “much more emotional” to know that she will be seeing her children soon.
The side effects of the experimental treatment were “relentless” and her face, in particular, has “taken quite a beating” as a result of the clinical trial, but Ms Phelan has no “alternative option”.
“I really thought ‘I don’t know if I can keep doing this,'” says Ms Phelan, recalling her time in hospital after serious side effects.
“But at the same time, I knew very well that if I don’t keep doing this, I really can’t do much else.”
Ms Phelan sued the US lab that performed the inaccurate swabs, and in 2018 Ms Phelan was awarded a €2.5 million settlement by the Irish Supreme Court. She has dedicated her life to raising awareness and seeking justice for the other at least 221 women affected by the scandal.
In 2019, Ms. Phelan released a memoir about her life, her battle with cancer, and the ongoing fight for justice over the CervicalCheck scandal, titled Overcoming.