A terminally ill mother of four who has sued over the alleged incorrect reporting of three of her smear tests broke down on Monday as she told the High Court she won’t get to see her children grow up.
But she said she still believes there should be a national screening CervicalCheck programme to look after her daughters.
“They failed me”, she said but she wanted other women to have faith in a screening system.
She said she trusted the doctors to look after her, but she fell at every turn.
“Nobody looked after me. I don’t get to see my children grow up,” she told Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon.
Giving her evidence by video link the 46-year old woman, who has terminal cervical cancer and who cannot be named by the order of the court, said her life is now about making memories.
But she said the Covid lockdown has given her more time at home with her children.
“Even if we are sitting on the sofa looking at a movie, we are making memories,” she added.
Referring to an external review of her cervical smear slides which concluded there had been missed opportunities in her case to diagnose and treat pre cancer, the woman said she was sad, angry and dumbfounded.
She said when she was told the conclusion, she was in “such shock, I stopped hearing things after that.”
Her case refers to three smears taken, in 2011, 2012 and 2014. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2015 which recurred last year. The woman, her husband and their four children have all brought actions against US laboratory, Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, (CPL) Austin, Texas, Medlab Pathology Ltd with offices at Sandyford, Dublin and the HSE.
It is claimed the three smears were incorrectly reported and cytological cell changes were allegedly allowed to develop and spread unidentified, unmonitored and untreated until the woman was diagnosed with cancer six years ago. There was, it was further claimed an alleged failure to diagnose pre cancerous or cancerous cells on a timely basis.
It is also claimed the woman’s constitutional rights were allegedly breached in the alleged inexcusable delay in conveying the results of the screening audit to her.
The laboratories deny all the claims.
The HSE has accepted the outcome of the slides review should have been made known to the woman as soon as CervicalCheck was notified. The reassurance given by the specialist in 2018 regarding no alteration to her clinical outcome, it has said was given in good faith but it has admitted the further review concluded the reassurance was not accurate.
In evidence, the woman told how she was told in February 2020 her cancer had returned and spread to other parts of her body.
“It was everywhere; that was it.”
“I was on my second round of chemotherapy. The cancer had spread everywhere. It does not give much confidence,” she said.
Referring to the 2016 internal review by CervicalCheck which upgraded her smear slides from the initial reporting of no abnormality detected and which she was only told about two years later, she said she could not understand why she was called back to her specialist’s office.
She said she had put the specialist on a pedestal and he was God to her because he had treated her 2015 cancer.
The specialist told her the results of the review but reassured her it made no difference to her clinical outcome.
“I trusted him I did not question what he told me,” she told the judge.
When after the external review she found out the specialist’s reassurance was incorrect, the woman said she got angry and upset.
“I think of my children and everything we are going through,” she said.
The case before Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon continues.