Beat remembers: Vicky Phelan, a courageous cervical cancer campaigner

Beat remembers: Vicky Phelan, a courageous cervical cancer campaigner

Beat remembers cervical cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan one year after.

Vicky's campaign to raise awareness for incorrect diagnosis has led to great reforms in the health sector.

Women are also being encouraged to book in a cervical screening test, per the Read My Lips initiative.

Taking part in the exercise is simple;

  • Open your phone camera, switch to the front-facing camera and select video.
  • Film yourself putting on lipstick.
  • Post this video using the hashtag #ReadMyLips, urging viewers to 'Choose screening - book a cervical screening test today.'

She had returned home to Ireland from the US after the treatment she received there for cervical cancer no longer worked.

The medical team at Georgetown University Hospital in Maryland recommended that Vicky return home to receive palliative chemotherapy.

The Kilkenny native, born on October 28th, 1974, Ms Phelan never set out to be a national campaigner.

Ms Phelan was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014 three years after receiving an incorrect smear test result that failed to detect any abnormalities.


From there she underwent aggressive treatment — radiation, chemotherapy and brachytherapy — and was eventually given the all-clear.

In September 2017, during a routine check-up, her gynaecologist told her that an audit carried out by CervicalCheck found her 2011 smear test had been reported as a false negative.

Weeks later, a CT scan revealed her cancer had returned, and this time was delivered a terminal diagnosis.

Left alone with her patient file, she flipped it open and quickly realised something was wrong relating to her smear history and CervicalCheck and contacted a lawyer.


The HSE confirmed that just over 206 women here went on to develop cervical cancer after receiving an incorrect smear test result from CervicalCheck.

Vicky died in the early hours of Monday, November 14th, 2022 at Milford Hospice in Limerick.

She is survived by her two children, Amelia (17) and Darragh (11).

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