THIS Saturday, December 8, mum of two Carol Murray, from Midleton, will march from Patrick’s Street to City Hall to highlight the Cervical Check scandal.
Carol, aged 33, who marked seven years cancer free last month, found out in May this year that a smear taken in 2010 had been read incorrectly. That smear should have been followed up immediately. Instead she was told to come back in six months for another smear. But there is no record of the second test she undertook.
She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in July 2011 — more than 12 months after the initial smear test should have rung alarm bells.
Having initially spoken out back in May about the scandal, involving more than 200 women, Carol said she had to ‘pull herself back’ a bit, due to the stress — “I was mentally and physically drained.”
She spent the summer focusing on her family and her two boys. However, in the last few weeks she has seen support for the cause grow and feels strongly that we need to keep a spotlight on the issue.
Already 100 people have pledged to join her on her march. She will leave Patrick Street, near Merchant’s Quay, on Saturday at 1pm and walk down the main street, onto the Grand Parade, South Mall and onto Cork City Hall, where there will be speeches and poetry and families are welcome to share their experiences.
She said she will dress in a white all in one suit, only unveiling her face on arrival at Cork City Hall, in a symbolic gesture.
“I will have my face covered. When I arrive at City Hall I will open the suit — this is me, I am a real person…”
She said the outfit will be symbolic of the cover-up which she feels the women and their families have had to endure.
Carol marked being cancer free for seven years last month, but due to the events of the past year, it should have been a happier moment.
She said she is so grateful to still be here, unlike some women whose families are facing into Christmas without their loved ones. She counts herself lucky every day, but to know women lost their lives needlessly means she is unable to ‘celebrate’ being cancer free.
Carol also said now, seven years on, when she feels unwell, it sends her into panic mode as her trust in the health system has been shattered.
“The trust is gone. I am delighted to reach seven years, it is seven years longer, it is a good milestone.
“I am very lucky as it had reached stage 3 and it had spread to areas they could not reach. If it had been a couple of weeks later, it is a scary thought. The ‘what ifs’ are always there.”
She said her march is to highlight the ‘cover-up’, but also the lack of information that is still forthcoming.
She is also unhappy as to how information is being shared with those affected. She cites returning home from holidays to the Scally Report leaks in the media.
She added that there are also ongoing issues around families trying to gain access to slides, to get them independently reviewed.
Last week, Carol met Vicky Phelan for the first time at an arts event in Waterford. She and Vicky spoke to the gathering about their experiences.
She is also a member of Standing for Women and of the support group set up for the 200-plus women affected by the scandal, 221+ group, which she says she draws great strength from.
Carol is also highlighting a BT Young Scientist survey being carried out by Róisín Ní Chadhla and Jovana Gajic, second year students at Ardscoil na Mara, Tramore, Co. Waterford on the Cervical Check scandal. There is information on Carol’s Facebook page.
The Carol Murray March for Justice takes place on Saturday, December 8 at 1pm, leaving Patrick Street, near Merchant’s Quay and walking to City Hall.