Mother who held emergency department sit-in has cancer

A mother who hit the headlines when she stormed into a hospital emergency department (ED) and refused to leave before being properly diagnosed has just received the devastating news that she has cancer.

Caroline Sherwin at home in Donacarney, Co Meath, with her twin girls Casey and Mya, and the family dog Toby. Picture: CIara Wilkinson

Caroline Sherwin, from Donacarney, Co Meath, is now even more adamant that she acted correctly three weeks ago, when she waited for 13 hours in the ED of the Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. Despite being put under pressure by staff to leave, she refused to go until she was seen by a surgeon.

A surgeon eventually saw her at about 10.30pm after he had finished surgery and ordered her to be operated on the next day to excise a mass on her lymph node.

“I was convinced at the time that what I did was correct and now I am even more certain,” said Ms Sheridan.

“The initial group of medics who examined me in the hospital that day told me they were just going to monitor the lumps in my thyroid gland, but they ignored the one on my lymph node.

“That’s when I dug my heels in and said I was staying until that was properly checked out.”

Ms Sherwin said he had “a gut feeling that there was something major wrong” and “when they did the operation the next day they discovered a lump actually inside the lymph node and that’s where the cancer is”.

“If I had accepted their initial assurances and just gone home, like they wanted me to, there was an obvious danger the cancer could have spread,” she said. “But thankfully I didn’t [leave] and it looks like they have now got to it in time, as it is contained in the one area.

“I was told on the day that a specialist couldn’t see me for three months, as that was the length of the waiting list. How bad a position would I be in if I accepted that, for a start I wouldn’t even be anywhere near being correctly diagnosed and the cancer could have spread through me, that’s the reality.”

A mum of 11-year-old twins, Ms Sherwin revealed she was mentally prepared for the bad news which came a week ago.

“I got a phone call from the hospital on Friday, March 10th, to say they had the results of the tests back and wanted to see me on the following Monday,” she said. “I knew then that it wasn’t going to be good news, as if I had the all clear they would have told me over the phone.

“But deep inside me I knew anyway, so I had kind of got my head around it, before they even confirmed it. That’s why I did what I did in the first place, because I knew there was something wrong.”

Ms Sherwin is also calling on others to follow her example.

“I’m not saying people should run into the A&E with every little ache and pain, but if your gut instinct tells you there is something seriously wrong then go in, stay there and don’t leave until you are attended to properly,” said Ms Sheridan.

“I know I am very very glad I did, it’s given me a fighting chance to beat this thing. If I had to lie down and accept the fact I was on a three-month waiting list that would be a lot more difficult.

“I’d certainly say to people the HSE try to fob you off, and if you feel you are being messed around then take direct action, get in their face, because until they see you in person you are just a number to them, and to tell you the truth, you don’t really matter to them, you don’t matter one bit.”


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