A HEARTBROKEN Cork man whose wife died after a cancer misdiagnosis has recalled how she picked out their daughter’s Holy Communion dress during her last days.
An emotional Paul Dingivan described yesterday how his wife Julie died in his arms at Marymount Hospice in April 2017.
He found out in May this year that his wife was wrongly given the all-clear from a smear test.
An audit of the CervicalCheck screening programme found 208 women who would later be diagnosed with cervical cancer were originally given an incorrect all-clear result following a smear test.
Mr Dingivan’s wife was one of 17 women who died.
Mr Dingivan told The Neil Prendeville Show on RedFM that his wife Julie was wrongly given the all clear from a smear test in 2009, but she bled heavily during another 2013 examination and was sent for a biopsy which confirmed she had cancer.
The couple has a daughter Ali, born in 2011, and a child each from previous relationships.
It was when Julie went for a hysterectomy that she discovered she was pregnant with their second child — which was lost due to her treatment.
Despite the initial all-clear, Julie’s cancer returned in 2014 when the couple were planning their wedding, which they went ahead with in Spain while Julie was having bouts of chemotherapy treatment.
Paul said: “We were being told by the doctors ‘you’re young, you’re healthy, we’ve caught this early’, which we all know now that they didn’t catch it early, but that’s what we were always being told.”
When cancer returned in 2015, Julie went to the Beacon Hospital for targeted radiotherapy.
Eventually, she went to Marymount Hospice to treat her pain, where Paul received the news he feared.
“I asked is she going to die and they said she was, they gave her about a week to live.
“I didn’t want it to be, but I kinda knew that’s what was coming. That’s where we were going with it.
“I tried to have the talk with Julie, but she said she didn’t want to know how long; when she did wake up she got upset when I tried to talk to her, she said: ‘I don’t want to know how long I have left with my children — just leave me to enjoy it.
“She cried and then she snapped out of it straight away and she sat down then with her sister and my daughter and a few other friends and she picked out what kind of communion dress she wanted Ali to wear, what way she wanted her hair done; stuff like that.”
Paul said he struggled with the disclosure by the hospital and left Marymount, considering taking his own life.
A call from Julie convinced him to return and they spoke about the future.
She kept saying: “‘Whatever you do, stay at work and make sure you can give Ali the life she deserves,’ ” said Paul.
Paul also recalled when his wife passed away.
“I laid on the bed with Julie and I fell asleep with my arms around her,” he said. “I woke up with a nurse and my daughter Jasmine in the room, and she said ‘Julie’s gone, she’s stopped breathing’.
“I was talking to her for a while even though she was asleep. I told her to go if she wanted to, don’t keep fighting. They woke me then to tell me she was gone.”