‘There’s so much pain in the house’: Emma Mhic Mhathúna full transcript
Emma Mhic Mhathúna speaks to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland about her terminal diagnosis
Emma Mhic Mhathúna is one of scores of Irish women who were wrongly told they had normal smear tests through the CervicalCheck screening programme
Emma Mhic Mhathúna is one of scores of Irish women who were wrongly told they had normal smear tests through the CervicalCheck screening programme, prompting the Government to set up a scoping inquiry into the scandal. This week she was told she is terminally ill. She spoke to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland about her diagnosis.
Audrey Carville: “A 37-year-old woman who was the face of the HPV vaccine campaign has been told that she is dying from cervical cancer. Emma Mhic Mhathúna, who has five young children, was one of the women who was told that her original smear test was clear in 2013, but it wasn’t. Three years later her cancer was diagnosed, she was never told about her incorrect smear. I spoke to Emma a short time ago.
Emma Mhic Mhathúna: I learned this week that I’m dying and that the cancer is discovered in my bones and everything, so I have a test on Friday to see exactly how long I’ve left.
AC: And who told you this devastating news?
EMM: My GP.
AC: And Emma, did you think you’d be clear, did you hope you’d be clear?
EMM: I hoped I’d be clear, but I had a feeling that I was... I had a feeling I had cancer again, because I’d had it before. But I didn’t think it would be terminal.
AC: Have you told your children?
EMM: I have, yeah.
AC: And how are they? You’ve a very young family.
EMM: Devastated. I’m crying thinking about it. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, because as a mother it’s my job to protect them and to keep the bad news away from them.
And we’d such a good day on the confirmation like, my results were ready on Tuesday but I didn’t want to get them because it was their confirmation. And then I had to collect them from school early and tell them that I’m dying and it’s just a horrible thing to witness to be honest, there’s so much pain in the house.
AC: Is there any treatment, anything left that you can do?
EMM: They’ll know more when they get the results on Friday. But all the doctors, the gynaecologist, the oncologist, my GP; I’ve such a fabulous team, I’m in good care in that sense, you know? So if there’s anything available they’ll find it.
AC: And Emma you had just found out that you had a smear test in 2013 which you thought was normal, but it wasn’t, but you never knew that?
EMM: No. No. The 2013 smear said that I was healthy when I wasn’t. And because of that then I actually developed cancer. And now I’m dying. And if the smear test was right, and I was told this by my gynaecologist, who is over three hospitals, so he knows his stuff, this guy is amazing, he told me himself, that if my smear test was right in 2013 I wouldn’t be where I am today.
And this is what makes it so heartbreaking. I’m dying when I don’t need to die. And my children are going to be without me, and I’m going to be without them. I tried to do everything right, by, you know, breastfeeding, and being a full-time mum, and sacrificing, you know, my own life for them. I didn’t see it as a sacrifice and now I’m going to miss out. And I don’t even know if my little baby is going to remember me.
And what just makes this whole situation so sick is that the Government aren’t doing anything about it. And when it first broke out I was like ‘OK, well, the head of the HSE is surely going to do something’, and he didn’t. And then I looked to Simon Harris, I was thinking ‘Well surely the Minister for Health is going to step in and do something’, that’s why we give these people powers, and he didn’t do anything. So then I was like ‘Surely the Taoiseach is going to do something!’ And he just seems to be sticking up for them. And they’re all hiding there in the Dáil and they don’t see what I see.
And there’s women that are dead and they’re not just any women, they’re people’s daughters and they’re mammies and all the children are in so much pain. And my stance on it is I think the only person that can do something on it now is the President, and I never actually thought I’d say something like that in a country, in 2018, in Ireland. Because the Government need to go , they’re not actually - and I’m not being insulting, it’s genuine - they’re not actually capable of minding us, and that is their job. To make sure that we’re OK.
I’m dying and I didn’t even need to die, and I’m only 37. Last night I was in bed and I was having this really bad dream. I dreamt that I was dying last night and I wasn’t ready because I hadn’t said goodbye to my children and in my dream I was trying to ring 999 but I couldn’t pick up the phone. So in my dream I had gone in to Natasha, she sleeps across the landing, and I was trying to wake her up so that I could say goodbye to her because I hadn’t said goodbye.
And then I woke up and I was like ‘Thank God I haven’t died yet because I want to say goodbye to them.’ And this isn’t fair. And no amount of money can replace this. I know which of my children like butter, and which of them need time out when they’re getting tired, and all the fun stuff we do together. We have such good fun the six of us.
And I moved all the way down here to Ballydavid because it’s such a fantastic place, and all my children are boys and it’s really like Enid Blyton down here; they go climbing on the rocks and they go camping in the fields and they’re so safe, and they build sandcastles, and that’s all being taken away from them. And yesterday I had to sit down with the teachers and I was like ‘What are we going to do?’ Do you understand what I mean?
AC: I do. Emma, there’s nothing I can say. I’m so so sorry. I’m so so sorry.”