The 221+ CervicalCheck Patient Support Group was formally launched in Farmleigh today. Group members Vicky Phelan, Stephen Teap and Lorraine Walsh, with the support of The Marie Keating Foundation, Irish Cancer Society and Irish Patients Association, have established this group. It will be funded by the Department of Health and will operate entirely independently of the HSE.
This Support Group has been established to represent the current known and unknown women and families impacted by the CervicalCheck controversy. Its main objective will be to meet the needs of patients directly affected by the CervicalCheck controversy and their next of kin by providing information, advice and support in a structured and confidential manner.
The 221+ CervicalCheck Patient Support Group will also provide expertise and advice to women in relation to a range of relevant topics including information on clinical trials, new and emerging treatment options including immunotherapy drugs. It will act as an inclusive voice for all affected by the current crisis but will also aim to give voice to other women diagnosed with cervical cancer in the future as a result of the screening issues.
221+ also announced today that Carrie Smith has been appointed as coordinator of the group. 221+ will convene and co-ordinate a panel of experts and specialists to give guidance in different disciplines to include e.g.:
- Access to Legal Advice
- Access to Financial Supports
- Family Counselling
- Clinical trials & drugs
- Communicating with children
- Coping with fatigue & side effects
Relevant information and resources will be made available to 221+ members through a website (www.221plus.ie) which will contain some public information on the group as well as a closed members’ portal, which can be accessed with a unique access code. This portal will also facilitate an ‘Ask the Specialist’ service whereby members can send any queries or questions in confidence, and a response will be given within a defined period.
Speaking at the launch today Vicky Phelan said, “”The CervicalCheck scandal has been traumatic for the 221+ patients and their families. Part of the process in healing from trauma is connecting with others who have been affected. One of the main functions of the 221+ Patient Support Group is to provide a safe, open, caring, supportive environment to allow this healing to take place.”
Also speaking at the launch today Lorraine Walsh said, “The day I found out I had cancer was what I thought was the worst day of my life! I was wrong; the day I found out that I shouldn’t have got cancer had my smear been read properly was the worst day of my life! I am now riddled every day with the awful thoughts of “what if?” which has shaken me to my very core and challenged me mentally and emotionally beyond any physical or emotional challenges that I ever experienced before. The support that I have received from the fellow women and families involved in this disaster has been so comforting and today we launch our official support group 221+ so we can continue to support each other through this very difficult time, it is soothing to be among people that understand my heartache as they are dealing with their own pain”
Speaking at the launch today Stephen Teap said, “Not one of us wants to be a part of this scandal, none of us asked for this nor would we of ever agreed to be a part of this, but we are. While
some of us have gone public to take this crisis head on there are many others suffering in silence in the background. One of the main purposes of this support group is reaching out to everyone involved in this, to let them know they’re not alone, offer them support and help in an environment they can fully trust and stand shoulder to shoulder with them while taking the steps together to see this out”
Speaking at the launch today on behalf of the three founding patient organisations (Marie Keating Foundation, Irish Cancer Society and Irish Patient Association) Stephen McMahon said, “The mission of 221+ is to be a meaningful caring presence and support for Women with cervical cancer, their partners and families. They are at the centre of all we do, we will listen to their needs, fulfill them as best we can, learn from their experiences and through 221+ and it’s alliance of founding members be an independent Powerful Partner at the places of reform”
221+ Group contact details:
The press conference will be filmed and placed on the 221+ website for viewing later by members of support group not able to attend