Tributes paid on first anniversary of Vicky Phelan’s death

Today marks the first anniversary of Vicky Phelan’s passing.

It is no surprise that the women of Ireland are paying tribute to the incredible woman.

The mum-of-two died at Milford Hospice in Co. Limerick in the early hours of November 14th 2022 at just 48 years of age.

Vicky underwent a routine smear test for cervical cancer in 2011, her test showed no abnormalities, however she was diagnosed with cervical cancer three years later.

An internal CervicalCheck review found that her original result was incorrect, but she was not informed until 2017.

It has now emerged that over 221 women with cervical cancer had initially been given the all-clear based on smear tests carried out by the CervicalCheck screening programme.

In April 2018, the Kilkenny woman was awarded €2.5m in damages in the High Court over the error. She was one of the leading voices in the CervicalCheck campaign and went on to create a support group for people also affected by this.

She campaigned to give everyone affected by the inaccurate results access to an experimental drug named Pembro free of charge. This then led to the State extending this treatment to all cervical cancer patients.

Vicky Phelan

At the end of 2020, after almost three years on Pembro, Vicky announced the drug was no longer working. She travelled to the United States to take part in clinical trials however in October of 2021 they discovered more tumours in her body.

She returned to Ireland to receive palliative care and tragically she passed away in November of 2022.

Over the course of her life, Vicky wrote her inspiring memoir Overcoming which was published in 2019 and a film about her life also premiered in 2022.

Vicky is survived by her two children Amelia, 17, and Darragh, 11.


On the one-year anniversary of her death, tributes poured in for her once again.

Muireann O’Connell shared a picture of Vicky with the caption: “Vicky Phelan’s first anniversary is on November 14th.

“Vicky Phelan wanted women to be proactive about their health.  She had plans to spearhead a ‘Read My Lips’ call-to-action promoting cervical screening but she died before she got a chance to do it. The @irish_examiner have decided to take up the campaign in her name. Fair play to them.

“Every time I was lucky enough to speak to Vicky she always talked about the cervical screening programme and asked people to use it. Hopefully, someday soon, we’ll be like Australia who are on course to eradicate cervical cancer through their HPV vaccination programme by 2035 but in the meantime, please book your cervical screening if you haven’t had it. It’s free!”

Pic: Instagram/Vicky Phelan

Comedian Julie Jay and author Sarah Breen also shared the campaign on their social media pages.

“Thinking of Vicky Phelan today, of her family, friends and her legacy,” Maia Dunphy wrote.

The Irish Cancer Society shared a post which read: “Today, on the 1st anniversary of Vicky Phelan’s death, we remember Vicky and all the other women who aren’t with us today because of cervical cancer. We honour their legacies by continuing to work tirelessly to ensure that women’s health is prioritised and promoted in Ireland.”

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam.

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