Following the death of cervical cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan, Averil Power, CEO, Irish Cancer Society has said:
“Today it is no small understatement to say we are poorer for the loss of Vicky Phelan, but truly richer as a nation for the contribution she so generously made to Irish life.
“Vicky refused to be silent in the face of great personal challenge and the issues she brought to light changed the course of history for women in Ireland. Without her courage and her determination, others would not have known the truth behind the Cervical Check failings.
“Despite her own experience Vicky was a staunch champion of screening and tirelessly encouraged others to take up the offer when it was their turn. Unselfishly – and true to her trademark sense of fairness and conviction – it is the promotion of screening that is such an important part of Vicky’s legacy, which will go on to save many lives.
“Cervical cancer robbed her of her future and left her coping with severe side effects during her final years. Because of her advocacy, others will never have to go through what she went through.
“On top of her national advocacy, which will leave a lasting impression on Ireland as a country, Vicky was so generous with her time and energy to support others affected by cancer.
“She spoke candidly about her own experience, including the physical and sexual side effects of her cancer and treatment, which was a catalyst for better conversations and supports for women facing similar situations.
“In response, the Irish Cancer Society piloted the Women’s Health Initiative, to help women cope with a wide array of symptoms caused by their cancer treatment – including sexual problems, infertility and premature menopause. This ground-breaking programme for women was inspired by Vicky’s openness about the implications of her own cancer treatment, which also helped other women to break their silence regarding their own challenges.
“Most of all we will remember Vicky’s good humour, her empathy, her kind-hearted nature and her openness that contributed so much to Irish life and to the cancer community in recent years.
“We owe her a debt of gratitude that we must work tirelessly to repay by ensuring that women’s health is prioritised and promoted. Vicky’s legacy demands nothing less.
“Our thoughts today are with her children, Amelia and Darragh, husband Jim and all her family and friends. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam”