Vicky Phelan, Stephen Teap and Lorraine Walsh have launched a support group to represent the women and families affected by the CervicalCheck controversy.
The 221+ CervicalCheck Patient Support Group was formally launched in Farmleigh today with the support of The Marie Keating Foundation, Irish Cancer Society and Irish Patients Association.
It will be funded by the Department of Health and will operate independently of the HSE.
Its main objective will be to provide information, advice and support to patients and their kin directly affected by the CervicalCheck controversy.
It will also provide expertise and advice on clinical trials, new and emerging treatment options such as immunotherapy drugs.
They will also provide information and resources on their website, www.221plus.ie, which will also have a closed members’ portal that will give access to an ‘Ask the Specialist’ service.
Speaking at the launch today Vicky Phelan said: "The CervicalCheck scandal has been traumatic for the 221+ patients and their families. Part of the process in healing from trauma is connecting with others who have been affected.
"One of the main functions of the 221+ Patient Support Group is to provide a safe, open, caring, supportive environment to allow this healing to take place."
Also speaking at the launch today Lorraine Walsh said: “The day I found out I had cancer was what I thought was the worst day of my life. I was wrong; the day I found out that I shouldn't have got cancer had my smear been read properly was the worst day of my life.
"The support that I have received from the fellow women and families involved in this disaster has been so comforting and today we launch our official support group 221+ so we can continue to support each other through this very difficult time, it is soothing to be among people that understand my heartache as they are dealing with their own pain.”
Stephen Teap said: “Not one of us wants to be a part of this scandal, none of us asked for this nor would we of ever agreed to be a part of this, but we are.
"While some of us have gone public to take this crisis head-on there are many others suffering in silence in the background.
"One of the main purposes of this support group is reaching out to everyone involved in this, to let them know they're not alone, offer them support and help in an environment they can fully trust and stand shoulder to shoulder with them while taking the steps together to see this out."