One of the women who helped expose the cervical smear test scandal has slated the US labs and warned those involved that she is “coming afeter them”.
Emma Mhic Mhathúna, a mother of five who was diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer following an incorrect smear test result, vowed: “I’m going to take down as many people with me as possible that have been involved in this smear test saga. So, people better shape up because I’m going to be coming after them.”
She issued her defiant statement yesterday before undergoing a session of radiation therapy for four brain lesions.
Despite the recent confirmation that the cancer has spread to her brain, she told Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ Radio One that the danger with a diagnosis like hers is that it is easy to be written off. She said she has not lost hope and that her children inspire her to continue fighting every day.
“You need to become more assertive in your case because they [doctors] can tend to... write you off,” said Ms Mhic Mhathúna.
“So, I’ve actually got four lesions on my head instead of one, so I’ll have four days of brain radiation.
“The way I see it is, I’m going backwards, I’m fighting the tumours. So, my plan is obviously to live.”
Ms Mhic Mhathúna spoke of her own experience of the High Court process, after which she was awarded €7.5m, and said she has great empathy for other women, such as Ruth Morrissey, who have been caught up in the smear test scandal She said the US labs involved in the various cases are doing their utmost to minimise their exposure to damages.
She said she believes Taoiseach Leo Varadkar meant well when he said no woman affected by the scandal would have to go to court, but said the labs are using the system and this statement against him.
“I sympathise with the position that he’s in... he’s in a checkmate,” she said.
Ms Mhic Mhathúna said the labs are forgoing mediation as a strategy to avoid admitting negligence and paying out larger amounts. As far as she is concerned, she said, there is no question the labs share responsibility.
“To make a mistake twice, and that seems to be a pattern here, it’s almost like we were part of a batch,” she said. “It’s just so suspicious. There’s so much there that we don’t know. There is no dispute here. They made a mess. The woman is sick. It’s pay-up time.”
Describing her cancer diagnosis, Ms Mhic Mhathúna said: “An intruder has come into my home that I don’t want and it’s taking me away from my children — well, it’s trying to — so I’m fighting tooth and nail.”
Ms Mhic Mhathúna will be performing stand-up comedy this Friday night at the Laughter Lounge in Dublin, with all proceeds going towards a garden of remembrance for victims of the CervicalCheck scandal.
Meanwhile, the Irish Cancer Society has announced details of its annual free conference for cancer survivors and their families. Living Well with Cancer will take place in the Clayton Hotel, Silver Springs, Cork, on September 22.