Cork teenager remembers mum with 'heart of gold' at cancer rally

By Olivia Kelleher

The teenage son of Julie Dingivan, who was one of the women identified by the HSE as having died after being mistakenly given the all clear for cancer, has spoken of his “beautiful heart of gold” mum.

Julie, who was originally from Mahon in Cork, died of cervical cancer at the age of 36 in Marymount Hospice in Cork in April 2017.

The resident of Fermoy was diagnosed in 2013. The HSE recently indicated to her husband Paul that a clear smear test his wife received in 2009 was found to be inaccurate following a review in September 2016.

However, Julie was never told.

Julie's son Craig.

Her son Craig (19) was among the attendees at the Standing 4 Women rally at Cork City Hall yesterday evening. Speaking after the rally Craig said he didn’t know what to do with the anger he felt at the loss of his one-of-a-kind mother.

“I try my best to take it day by day to make her proud. I don’t know how to deal with (the anger). I have so much anger in me I don’t know where to guide it."

She was 36-years-of-age. She was a beautiful person. She would do anything for anybody. She loved to laugh. She was always great for messing around.

Craig said he was pleased with the turnout at the Cork rally and grateful for the dedication of the women who had gathered in such large numbers. He emphasised that he wanted accountability in relation to the death of his mother.

“I want someone to be put to blame. I want them to face the consequences. We were absolutely destroyed by it. All of this (the revelations) feels like starting over again. “

Craig did his Leaving Cert a few weeks after his mother passed away. He said naturally he wasn’t in his “right mind” during the exams. He stresses that grief isn’t linear and that he goes upwards and downwards on any given day.

“Yesterday was a bad day. Some days are a lot harder than others. It is really all about making her proud.”

Julie is survived by her husband Paul, their daughter Ali, her son Craig and her stepdaughter Jasmine.

Mr Dingivan was in attendance at the rally yesterday with his family members. He spoke publicly after he received details about his wife’s case. Member of the family held banners with the words “We will be your Voice. Hear us Roar. Julie 8/4/17.”

Meanwhile, about 250 people attended the Standing 4 Women rally. One of the organisers, Michelle Shahid, from Douglas in Cork said that the narrative cannot be allowed to move on with the changing of the news cycle.

The Standing 4 Women rally at City Hall, Cork today. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

“A lot of us are mothers. You don’t want to find yourself in that situation. We are trying to keep it in the public because we don’t want it forgotten about. A mother or wife is the centre of a house. You think you have the test done and you are grand. You should be able to trust the health system.”

Vivienne Farrell from Cobh, Co Cork said she decided to turn up for the rally because she was horrified by the “injustice of it all”.

Somebody needs to fight for these women. If we don’t get out and fight for ourselves nobody else is going to do it for us.

The crowds held banners with messages such as “Fighters who Never Stood a Chance” and “We Stand Together.” They also wore red for the occasion.

The organisers called for mandatory disclosure and said the persons impacted by the situation needed multidisciplinary support and access to medical cards. The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald, mingled with the crowd prior to the rally.

Poignantly Vicky Phelan, who sued the HSE and the lab for missing her cancer in a 2011 smear test, was unable to attend a Standing 4 Women rally in Limerick as she was waiting for an infusion at St Vincent’s Hospital.

Her family members attended the rally and she tweeted messages of support from hospital.


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