Cervical cancer deaths cannot be in vain
THERE was an outpouring of grief this week at the death of Emma Mhic Mhathúna, the Kerry mother of five who was one of the victims of the Cervical Check scandal.
Not only was Ms Mhic Mhathúna left with terminal cancer because of botched smear test results, she then was left with no choice but to spend her final months on earth campaigning so that others would go through what she had to, and a court battle to get compensation and ensure her children were provided for.
Fellow campaigner and cervical cancer sufferer Vicky Phelan made the point that Mc Mhic Mhathúna’s children should have been going to school as normal this week, and their mum should have been kissing them and sending them off for the day.
Instead, her battle was lost, one that should not have even had to have taken place.
During an interview in recent months, Ms Mhic Mhathúna said that her cancer became terminal because of ‘ human error’. She said that this was ‘disgusting’ and she was right.
Her death, at the age of 37, in the prime of her life with a beautiful family around her should not have happened and now she has prematurely joined the 19 other women who have lost their lives to cervical cancer having received incorrect smear test results.
If the death of Ms Mhic Mhathúna isn’t enough spark the required change, then what will?
Her death and the deaths of the many other women cannot be in vain.
There is still no accountability for the life-costing errors that were made and the subsequent cover ups and the culture of silence that has pervaded the Cervical Check screening programme.
Down to the leaking of the Scally Report before the victims and their families had been briefed showed complete disregard for the trauma and heartbreak they have faced and continue to face.
What Emma Mhic Mhathúna wanted was reform of the screening programme so that women could have confidence in it and its results.
Until this happens, every single woman in Ireland will be questioning if they can trust what they are told and the longer that heels are dragged in cleaning up the system, faith will continue to dwindle.
Emma Mhic Mhathúna’s death cannot be in vain.