The Guardian

‘I can change it for others’: the woman who exposed Irish smear tests scandal

If a test in 2011 had been accurate, Vicky Phelan might have avoided cancer. Now she is trying to give some hope to terminal patients
Vicky Phelan: ‘A lot of these gynaecologists feel like they’re gods and that you can’t question them.’ Photograph: Conor McCabe

When Vicky Phelan was told in January 2018 to get her affairs in order because she had less than a year to live, she crumpled. “The legs went from under me,” she recalled.

Emerging from the doctor’s office she avoided the gazes of her daughter and mother waiting outside and sought refuge in a bathroom. “I was in there for about 20 minutes. I bawled my eyes out.”

She composed herself, and then came the anger – not just for the prognosis of terminal cervical cancer but for the medical blunders that preceded it.

“I’ve always been bullheaded and stubborn,” she said. “I thought: I’m not taking

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Guardian

The Guardian3 min read
How Wonderful To Watch Simone Biles' Defiant Joy In Our Dark Times | Candice Frederick
Amid depressing news these days such as abortion bans, mass shootings and rampant Hollywood sexual assault cases, it can be easy to overlook an event so uplifting that it almost sounds like science fiction. Just a few days ago the gymnast Simone Bile
The Guardian16 min readPolitics
The Myth Of Eurabia: How A Far-right Conspiracy Theory Went Mainstream
Once an obscure idea confined to the darker corners of the internet, the anti-Islam ideology is now visible in the everyday politics of the west. How did this happen? By Andrew Brown
The Guardian4 min read
New Museum Tells Gripping Story Of Liberation Of Paris 75 Years On
Basement used by resistance as control centre transformed ahead of anniversary of Nazis surrender