CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan has returned to Ireland for palliative chemotherapy following the discovery of new tumours.
Ms Phelan was in the United States to undergo proton beam therapy, which aimed to shrink a tumour mass “dangerously close” to her vital organs.
However, the Kilkenny-born mother of two took to Instagram on Sunday to share that the discovery of new tumours had made her ineligible for the treatment.
She hopes that undergoing palliative chemotherapy will keep her alive until at least Christmas.
“It's been a couple of weeks since I posted an update. That's because since my last update, I have had some bad new,” she wrote in the Instagram post.
“Unfortunately, following a PET scan which my radiation oncologist at Georgetown University Hospital ordered, I have some new tumours.
“I have two new tumours in my neck but the worrying one is a new tumour on my bowel.... This means that I am no longer eligible for proton beam therapy since my tumours are far too extensive, ie I have too much disease in my body for them to zap!
“And so, the recommendation from the team at Georgetown University Hospital was for me to return home for systemic therapy, ie palliative chemotherapy.”
Ms Phelan said that “all of this happened over the space of a few days when decisions had to be made very quickly.”
“With a very heavy heart, I made the decision to return home to Ireland. I returned home earlier this week and am taking the time to reconnect with my kids and to absorb this news before I start down the chemotherapy road,” she said.
“The 'good' news is that I can still have treatment and that this treatment will keep me alive until Christmas at least. The bad news is that the treatment I am about to start on is extremely toxic and will take its toll on my body and my mind.
“So, I will be taking a break from social media over the next few weeks. I will only post very sporadically. As always, I would like to thank you all so very much for your support, your kindness, your generosity, your prayers and positive messages which continue to lift me and keep me going.”
Ms Phelan was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014 but was given the all-clear after prolonged and intense treatment.
However, three years ago she was informed that an audit carried out by CervicalCheck found that her 2011 smear test had been reported as a false negative.
Within weeks, a CT scan revealed the cancer had returned. The diagnosis was terminal. She went public with what had occurred and her efforts sparked a debate on the treatment and care of cancer patients in Ireland.
In 2018, she was awarded €2.5 million in the High Court over the misread smear test.