- 14 Nov 22
Vicky Phelan is survived by her two children, Amelia (16) and Darragh (10).
Emotional tributes are being paid following the death of cervical cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan.
The relentlessly compassionate campaigner died in the early hours of this morning at Milford Hospice in Limerick after being diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014.
In April 2018, Phelan settled a High Court action for €2.5m with Clinical Pathology Labs US, without admission of liability. The Waterford native had undergone a smear test in 2011 showing no abnormalities, before her diagnosis three years later.
She underwent aggressive treatment - radiation, chemotherapy and brachytherapy - and was eventually given the all-clear.
In September 2017, during a routine checkup, 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.
In April 2018, Vicky was outside the Four Courts making an explosive statement to awaiting journalists. A political and medical crisis ensued.
An internal CervicalCheck audit found the original smear check result to be wrong. Vicky travelled on a number of occasions to the US for treatment.
The cervical cancer awareness advocate announced in October 2021 that she returned home to Ireland from the US after the treatment she received there no longer worked.
The medical team at Georgetown University Hospital in Maryland recommended that Vicky return home to receive palliative chemotherapy.
Her campaigning led to the Scally Independent investigation and 2018 report into the controversy, plus the establishment of the 221+ support group and a State apology.
Her 2019 memoir, memoir Overcoming, became the An Post Book of the Year after she was named as one of the BBC's 100 women in 2018.
A documentary of the 48-year-old's life, titled Vicky, was screened recently.
"She was a woman of extraordinary courage and integrity who stood up for the women of Ireland," Taoiseach Micheal Martin said of Vicky's tragic death.
Journalist Aoife Grace Moore paid tribute today, tweeting: "Every woman in Ireland owes Vicky a debt of gratitude. We are a better country for her being in it. This didn’t have to happen and I am devastated that it did. Rest in peace, Vicky."]
Fellow journalist Richard Chambers tweeted: "Heartbreaking news. We’ve lost an incredible and courageous campaigner; a champion for the voiceless and someone who refused to accept things as they are. She was a wonderful and funny woman who was always left you feeling better having talked to her."
Podcaster, writer and broadcaster Louise McSharry also praised the campaigner’s strength.
"I have so much respect and admiration for Vicky Phelan’s refusal to go down quietly, and her unbelievably generous advocacy for other women. Thinking of her family and all who loved her. May she rest in peace."
"Ní Bheidh A Leithéid Ann Arís. Vicky Phelan, Mother, Daughter, Sister, Champion of Women, Campaigner who took on the State and won. Rest in Peace," Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald tweeted.
Charlie Bird also made a hugely emotional statement to his "hero".
"My heart is broken just hearing about the passing of Vicky Phelan. Over the past year she gave me great support to keep fighting my terminal illness. This whole country should be in mourning at the passing of this remarkable human being. My heart is broken. My hero is gone."
My heart is broken just hearing about the passing of Vicky Phelan .
Over the past year she gave me great support to keep fighting my terminal illness.
This whole country should be in mourning at the passing of this remarkable human being. My heart is broken. My hero is gone.
— Charlie Bird (@charliebird49) November 14, 2022
Ní Bheidh A Leithéid Ann Arís. Vicky Phelan, Mother, Daughter, Sister, Champion of Women, Campaigner who took on the State and won. Rest in Peace. pic.twitter.com/kxBf2hcgzf
— Mary Lou McDonald (@MaryLouMcDonald) November 14, 2022
Our good friend Vicky Phelan has died in the early hours of this morning at Milford Hospice in Limerick.
Our deepest sympathies to Vicky's family and friends, may she rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/X5LcvbbiVI
— The Late Late Show (@RTELateLateShow) November 14, 2022
The world was a better place with the mighty Vicky Phelan in it. A courageous, determined, authentic woman who selflessly & tirelessly worked to make life better for others. May her beautiful soul rest in eternal peace. Deepest condolences to her family & all who love her.💔
— Niamh Fitzpatrick (@NFitzPsychology) November 14, 2022
Taoiseach @MichealMartinTD has praised Vicky Phelan for her extraordinary courage and integrity. He told @TodaywithClaire that her death was very very sad news and he wanted to extend his deepest sympathy to her family. @rtenews
— Paul Cunningham (@RTENewsPaulC) November 14, 2022
Rest in peace Vicky Phelan, thank you for everything. The women of Ireland owe you so much. pic.twitter.com/vLf19hVcnt
— Jennifer Stevens (@JennifStevens) November 14, 2022
Rest in power Vicky Phelan. Ireland failed her, yet she reacted by spending her life fighting to make it a better place for all of us. One of the best people this island has ever had.
— Ciara | Ciaraíoch 🎨 (@Ciaraioch) November 14, 2022