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SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Vicky Phelan to focus on health and family as viral infection forces her to pull back from campaigning

Cancer awareness advocate Vicky Phelan is stepping back from campaigning after a serious setback to her health.

The mother of two apologised to her social media followers for being so quiet but revealed she has been in hospital due to a viral infection as she feared her cancer may have spread.

Originally from Kilkenny, the 45-year-old rose to national prominence due to lifting the lid on how hundreds of smear tests had been misdiagnosed as part of the national CervicalCheck programme last year.

In her Twitter posts she said: “Apologies to all my follows on Twitter for my absence over the past couple of weeks. I was very ill.

“I spent almost a week in hospital, my first as an inpatient since I got cancer. It was scary but I am ok again and a CT scan has revealed that my cancer has not spread.

“There is no explanation for what made me so ill so they have put it down to a viral infection. My time in hospital has taught me some valuable lessons, mainly that I need to pull back from campaigning so heavily and focus on my health and my two young children."

Ms Phelan added that she needs to prioritise her health and her family, saying ”I will still use my voice to campaign and to contribute to the conversation around women’s health but I will be doing it on my terms. I don’t know what lies ahead so I need to prioritise my health and my family above all else. Thank you.”

Hundreds of members of the public responded to her news. Psychologist Niamh Fitzpatrick whose sister Captain Dara Fitzpatrick died in a helicopter crash, while on a rescue mission two years ago off the coast of Co Mayo said: “Thinking about you Vicky. Your health and family are what matters.

“You have been immense in the work you’ve done and you have changed the landscape with that work. Time for you now. Take good care.”

Author Liz Nugget added: “Can I send you books Vicky? Might be a nice distraction but I write about horrible people.”

Ms Phelan campaigned for recognition of the mishandling of cases of women affected by the cervical cancer scandal, and in fighting for proper treatment for those suffering as a result, has meant that scores are now able to access the treatment she is receiving.

Ms Phelan, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer started receiving the “wonder drug” Pembrolizumab last year.

She is to be Grand Marshall in Kilkenny’s St Patrick’s Day parade next month.