Monday, May 21, 2007


From to day's independent.

"THE controversy over botched breast cancer tests blew up again last night after it was revealed a second woman was given the all-clear only to be diagnosed with the disease just weeks later.

The 38-year-old Limerick mother-of-two had even organised a party to celebrate the news of her medical clearance.

But just hours before the party was due to take place, she received the devastating news that she had breast cancer.

The woman is now facing a mastectomy and is said to be deeply upset at the manner in which she discovered she had cancer last Easter.

Her case follows that of Tipperary woman Rebecca O'Malley (41) who was also the victim of a botched breast sample test, as revealed in the Irish Independent last week.

The revelations greatly increased pressure last night on Health Minister Mary Harney to sanction a full, independent review of cancer testing within Health Service Executive facilities.

The Limerick woman's breast cancer tests were carried out earlier this year, though not at the Cork University Hospital lab that is now the focus of an HSE probe. It is understood her biopsy samples were processed by a UK laboratory.

The woman was initially told her biopsy showed no indication of cancerous cells - only to be informed four weeks later that she did, in fact, have breast cancer.

The Royal College of Physicians pathology faculty has urged the immediate adoption of a 'triple test' system for all breast-cancer samples.

An HSE spokesperson said the latest case would be followed up urgently once details were known."

Those poor women. The HSE are really dropping clangers all over the place but this is an absolute outrage. Cancer is a fucker. An absolute fucker of a disease and for a woman breast cancer in particular scares the hell out of us. It needs to be caught early, addressed and treated immediately if we're to have any chance of beating it at all. That's why these botched results are so outrageous. Four weeks can be the difference between life and death, or between mutilation or treatment.
I feel very sorry for the two ladies in question, what they must feel is beyond me. Rage probably. Here we are, a prosperous fucking country and we can't even get something as important as breast cancer screening right.
Who is culpable here? Where does the buck finally stop? The HSE must have someone who is answerable to us, Joe Public. It's not good enough to ride this one until the storm breaks. As women we need to know that we can rely on our health service when it come to matter that might mean us living or dying. Breast cancer is not a fucking cuddly pink ribboned disease that just gets treated easily. It is an ugly vicious serious illness that ultimately can kill a woman if left undiagnosed and untreated. I've seen first hand what cancer can do to a person, I'm sure many of us have, and I for one don't want to take the risk that it might happen to me some day simply through the incompetency of the HSE.

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Blogger Kav said...

Those poor women. That is absolutely horrendous. Has Harney made a statement?

9:43 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Not that I know of Kav, but I could be wrong there.

9:49 a.m.  
Blogger Dead Star said...

She made some bullshit statement about how she has commissioned an immediate investigation of the incidents but hasn't said she will set up a full independent inquiry. The HSE are like a giant computer running our health services. It's impossible to get an answer out of them and everyone passes responsibility to everyone else.

12:34 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Will this 'investigation' be conducted by an outside body or an internal body do you think Dead Star? I mean it occurs to me that the buck has to stop somewhere. Is there a problems in the lab, or with the staff, or administration? Why were these women let down so badly? Who is at fault here?

12:52 p.m.  
Blogger Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

How awful. These women must be beside themselves.

3:05 p.m.  
Blogger Dead Star said...

Yours are the exact questions that should be answered but probably won't be. I'm guessing the investigation will probably be done by some highly respected professor somewhere, or some "experts", but even if they find out exactly what happened and report critically back to the HSE, nothing will be done because the HSE answer to no one and control everything (OK that sounds extreme, but basically it's true). In this case what might have been a simple mistake on the part of some lab worker has been covered up and made 1000 times worse for this woman because of the way the HSE operates.

4:18 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Then they are absolute fuckers and I'm going to be very hostile to the next vote-prostitute that lands on my doorstep. Let's see what they have to say about it.

4:57 p.m.  
Blogger Dead Star said...

Good idea, I bet they will have no good answers though. It's a joke, I know of another woman who was told by a doctor in a Dublin hospital she had stage 4 cervical cancer and had 5 weeks to live and was assigned an end of life carer (?), only she got suspicious and went to Waterford for a second opinion, where they told her she didn't have cancer at all. That's nearly as bad, having to tell your family you're going to die, then say, oh wait, I'm not, send back the coffin and headstone.
She won't talk about it to the media though which I think is a pity. Name and shame I say.

5:08 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Damn straight, if that was me I'd be in every paper I could find and I'd sue the arse out of my consultant for mental distress. What if she had taken her own life out of desperation? Fuck knows what her poor family were put through before the hospital went 'oops'.

5:30 p.m.  
Blogger Mairéad said...

Hear, hear FMC. These cases are awful, shameful and a disgrace. problem is that they're not that unique. Also, that bit about catching cancer early, 4 weeks being crucial etc... Sorry to tell you that from the time a woman rushes to her GP having found a lump in her breast to having that lump examined could be 5-6 weeks easily. An ultrasound (if they'll even do one!) would be another 4-5 weeks after that.... so while they tell us to rush, they're in NO rush. We have a shite health service, a brutal education service, dreadful roads, crime gone insane, a Government that MUST be kicked sky high OUT of power.

9:35 p.m.  
Anonymous Tony O'Malley said...

My wife, Rebecca O'Malley, would like to thank contributors for their support and she has been heartened by the reaction of many journalists and members of the general public over the last few very tiring days. Rebecca will continue to seek the independent inquiry into her case and the Cork laboratory at the centre of the scandal. It is a shame Dead Star that your friend doesn't come forward. We would live in a different world if more people would. Thanks again.

9:47 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Tony, thanks very much for stopping by and please accept my deepest sympathy and outrage for what you and your family are going through.
It is an absolute travesty what has happened to your wife, to you and to your family and I hope you are provided with excellent care and some damn good answers.
It goes with out saying I wish your good lady wife a speedy recovery.
I have a small voice here but I would be happy to offer it whenever you wish to use it.
My email is

11:08 p.m.  
Blogger Medbh said...

Clearly, Rebecca O'Malley and Dead Star's friend have been abused by the HSE. You can bet that if it were a matter of testicular cancer there would have been a more energetic and just response.
FMC, it's wonderful to see bloggers making a difference and connecting the personal to the political.
All the best to Rebecca and Tony.

11:25 p.m.  
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