CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan dies aged 48 (2024)

Vicky Phelan has sadly passed away at age 48, seven years after she was diagnosed with cervical cancer and four years since she unearthed one of the biggest medical scandals of our time.

The women's health campaigner died in the early hours of this morning at Milford Hospice in Limerick.

The mother of two is survived by her daughter Amelia, 16, and son Darragh, 11. She is also remembered by her husband Jim and deeply missed by her wide community of friends and legion of supporters from around the country and across the pond.

Read more: Vicky Phelan's documentary is a raw portrait of the devastation cancer leaves for families in its wake

Vicky first made national headlines following her emotionally charged statement from the steps of the Four Courts in April 2018, after she unearthed one of the biggest medical scandals in recent times.

Originally from Mooncoin, Co. Kilkenny, but based in Annacotty, Co Limerick, Vicky first underwent a smear test for cervical cancer in 2011. Although her test results showed no abnormalities, Vicky was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014 and a subsequent internal review of CervicalCheck found her original result was incorrect. Vicky was not informed of that finding until 2017.

Vicky went on to sue the US lab that reviewed Irish smear tests, Clinical Pathology Laboratories, and the case was settled for €2.5million.

Vicky became a voice for women all over Ireland by going public with her case, and it soon emerged that more than 221 women with cervical cancer had incorrectly been given the all-clear by the CervicalCheck screening programme.

Vicky went on to establish a support group, alongside fellow survivor Lorraine Walsh and Stephen Teap (on behalf of his late wife Irene), to help women and families affected by the scandal.

After fundraising for an experimental drug called Pembro to prolong her life (a drug which costs up to €8,500 every three weeks), Vicky successfully fought to have the drug offered to every cervical cancer patient.

Pembro gave Vicky three years of a great quality of life that she would have missed out on had she opted for chemotherapy. However in November 2020, it emerged that Pembro was no longer having the same effect and Vicky’s cancer had returned.

In a statement just before Christmas 2020, she said: "My cancer is back, I’m just buying time, I know that. What’s happening in the last couple of weeks is that I have a new tumour, first one in two and a half years.”

Read more: Vicky Phelan joins husband Jim and son Darragh for gorgeous Ireland campervan holiday

In January 2021, Vicky travelled to the US for six months to take part in an experimental trial using Pembro 2.0. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, Vicky was forced to travel and live without her family while bravely taking part in the trial which had horrific side effects on her health.

Despite her best efforts, Vicky was devastated to learn that her cancer had progressed too far to continue with the trial, and she returned home to in the summer of 2021 to begin a brutal course of radiotherapy, starting in February, 2022.

In recent weeks Vicky spoke of her declining health and released a statement following the death of Lynsey Bennett from cervical cancer at age 34.

"I am very late posting a tribute to @lynseybennettofficial here today because I am not well myself and spent most of the day out at the hospital having a procedure done," she wrote.

"That, unfortunately, is the reality of living with late stage cervical cancer as Lynsey would have known only too well these last few months of her very short life, at only 34 years of age."

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Read more:

  • Vicky Phelan joins husband Jim and son Darragh for gorgeous Ireland campervan holiday

  • Vicky Phelan reunites with brother for ‘last time’ ahead of his return home to New Zealand

  • Vicky Phelan looks stunning as she reunites with sister Lyndsey for sweet meetup

  • Vicky Phelan enjoys fabulous staycation with close friends after painful week

  • Vicky Phelan in ‘huge' amount of pain as she issues apology to Charlie Bird for missing book launch

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CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan dies aged 48 (2024)

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