Couragerous Limerick mum-of-two Vicky Phelan, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer after a false negative cervical smear test carried out as part of CervicalCheck, has said her tumours have shrunk significantly.gative result in 2011.
In April, Vicky was awarded €2.5m in a settlement against the US lab that carried out the test over a false negative result in 2011.
She was only informed of the mis-read test last year, and her case came to light in an audit after she had been diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014.
Since her false negative result her cancer had progressed to the point where she was given just months to live.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Ray Darcy Show today, she said her oncologist from St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin told her yesterday that a CT scan she had on Tuesday showed there had been "a significant shrinkage" in her tumours.
The Limerick woman said she has had just three doses of a chemotherapy drug, Pembrolizumab, so the news surprised her.
She said her doctor was delighted, as was she, and he told her it was not just significant for her but also for other cancer patients in Ireland.
Ms Phelan said her doctor has been campaigning for Pembrolizumab to be made available to women in Ireland with cervical cancer.
The drug has been licenced since 2014 but Ms Phelan said her doctor has not been able to get access to the drug.
She said Pembrolizumab is not licenced for use for her type of cancer, but she was able to have it prescribed after "nine weeks of blood, sweat and tears fighting for this drug".
Anyone else who is on the drug in Ireland is only receiving the treatment as part of clinical trials, she said.
She said "perseverance" and "stubbornness" was how she ended up getting the drug.
"I wasn’t going to take no for an answer", she said.
"When you are given a terminal diagnosis and you have no hope, you’ll do whatever you have to get the drug if you think it’s going to work," she said.
She said she had a sense the news would be good, but not as good as the doctor told her it was.
Ms Phelan said she was no longer in pain and her 10cm tumour had shrunk a lot, so straight away she felt the drug had to be working.
"It actually is amazing ... the type of news I got yesterday, you couldn’t have expected it."
"If you told me back in January that I’d be in this position, I’m not naive enough to think that this is going to cure me, but it’s going to be something like diabetes – I see it as something like that."
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