Stephen Teap has been awarded Cork Person of the Month for September to mark his activism and commitment on behalf of all those affected by the CervicalCheck scandal.
In July 2017, Stephen’s wife Irene lost her battle with cervical cancer following two incorrect test results in 2010 and 2013, which missed pre-cancerous cells and the early stages of the disease, leading to her delayed diagnosis in 2015.
Ten months after Irene’s passing, the CervicalCheck debacle came to light following the Vicky Phelan court case, which exposed how the misreading of smear test results in a lab meant an enormous amount of Irish women had received incorrect diagnoses.
In 2018, Stephen, alongside fellow campaigners Vicky Phelan and Loraine Walsh, launched the 221Plus Patient Support Group. This group helps victims directly affected by the CervicalCheck screening failure, as well as their families, by providing them with advice, information and support.
Since then, Stephen Teap has gone on to become one of Ireland’s leading campaigners for improvements to the CervicalCheck Screening Programme.
He is one of three patient representatives on the CervicalCheck Steering Committee. This committee’s members include representatives from the Department of Health, the HSE, and the Irish Cancer Society.
Last month, in early August, Stephen and Loraine met with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Minister for Health Simon Harris to discuss the basis for a formal apology on behalf of the State to the women and families affected by the CervicalCheck scandal. “One of the reasons for an apology is that it starts the healing process,” said Stephen.
“I felt this scandal affected everybody in Ireland, and it was not just a problem for women, but for everyone who’s lives were impacted,” Stephen said.
“Behind every case you hear of, there are families just like mine. On behalf of those families, I want to make sure that the problems surrounding the CervicalCheck Screening Programme and general women’s health are improved upon for Irish women in the future.”
Speaking on Stephen’s recent award, Cork Person of the Month sponsor Ann-Marie O’Sullivan said, “the awareness that Stephen has raised, and continues to raise, surrounding cervical cancer and CervicalCheck has been invaluable.
"His work has given a voice to the women and their families affected by these issues.”
The positive impact of Stephen’s campaigning has been recognised by the people of Cork and Ireland, including Michael McGrath TD, who nominated Stephen for this award.
“I hope this Cork Award will further help to promote our work to get accountability and justice for all those involved. The system failed my 35-year-old wife Irene and mother of our two young sons and I just want to make sure it never happens again to any other family,” said Stephen at the award presentation.
Stephen Teap, from Carrigaline, will now have his name go forward for possible selection as Cork Person of the Year 2019 at a gala awards lunch on the 17th January 2020 in Rochestown Park Hotel, before an invited audience of 250 people representing all sectors of Cork life.