Cervical cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan has announced that she is stopping chemotherapy treatment so she can spend “quality time” with her children over Christmas.
Talking to Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show, Ms Phelan said she had always known that there would come a time when she would have to make “really hard decisions” and that time was now.
The Kilkenny woman recently spent nine months in the US receiving proton beam therapy. However, doctors there said she had too many new tumours and recommended she return to Ireland for palliative cancer treatment.
“So I kind of thought, I have to give the chemotherapy a go because I didn’t really have any other options and all I could think of was, ‘It’s October now and [nearly] Christmas, and I really want to see Christmas,” Ms Phelan said.
“So I had to do it for the kids.”
However, chemotherapy left her bed bound for 11 days and “I couldn’t even have a conversation with them [her kids].”
Her son, Darragh, was too nervous even to come into her room as he was worried he would pass on some other disease to her.
“Four weeks ago I didn’t think I’d see Christmas, that’s how real this is for me… At this stage, I’ve been fighting this terminal part of the disease since 2018,” she said.
She has since decided not to have another round of chemotherapy and instead will take the drug pembro - which she says gives her a better quality of life.
“Hopefully that will keep me going till Christmas - but who knows?
“I mean, at the moment I feel well and I had pembro last Monday. And look at me, I’ve been fine since. That’s what I want. This quality of life - not what I had.”
After posting on social media about her decision, Ms Phelan received a flood of messages but one that stood out was from a woman whose mother had died of cancer when she was young.
“She was ten when her mother died… She said, ‘All I have of memories [are] of my mother are her being thrown in bed, sick and suffering.’
“She said, ‘I think what you’re doing is so brave, I would rather have had a shorter time with my mother but more quality.’
“And I just think those kind of messages to me really validate what I’m doing… I would rather my children have memories of doing stuff with me and if I go sooner, then so be it.”
Main image: Vicky Phelan outside Leinster House. Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie