Cervical cancer deaths can­not be in vain

The Argus - - OPINION - With Deb­o­rah Cole­man

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.

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