Vicky Phelan reunited with family as she arrives back in Ireland after US treatment

Cancer campaigner spent six months in the US in clinical trial

Vicky Phelan: ‘It is going to be hard to come back [to the US] because I know I am coming back on my own again for God knows how long.’ File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan, who has been undergoing cancer treatment in the United States, has arrived back in Ireland after six months living away from her family.

Ms Phelan arrived at Dublin Airport in the early hours of Thursday morning, where her family was waiting to meet her in a private room.

Posting on her Instagram account she said she was glad to have “time and privacy to reunite with my family after six months of not seeing them”.

While in the US, Ms Phelan has been undergoing treatment, as part of a clinical trial, which she has described as the “toughest” experience of her eight-year cancer journey.


Speaking from the US on RTÉ radio last weekend Ms Phelan said she was feeling “emotional” at the prospect of seeing her children, Amelia and Darragh, as well as the rest of her family .

She said she hoped the infusion treatment she is undergoing would shrink some of her tumours. However, the treatment has resulted in some concerning side effects which have so far been manageable, she said.

Weathering this trial in the US by herself has been “very hard”, she said, and she has had moments where she wondered if she could keep going.

“At the same time there isn’t much else I can do... If I come off this trial it is palliative chemo at that stage and I am done,” she told the Sunday with Miriam programme.

Travel restrictions

Since January Covid-19 restrictions on travel made it impossible for her family to visit during her treatment.

“I really did think that the ban would be lifted at this stage... It is going to be hard to come back [to the US] because I know I am coming back on my own again for God knows how long. It is tough,” she said.

Ms Phelan, who is due to return to the US to continue her treatment in August, said she hopes she has already suffered the worst of the reaction to the drug.

“I would be hoping for some shrinkage of the tumours to give me a bit of a break,” she said.

She said she would be updating her Instagram account “sporadically”, but was looking forward to spending time with her family and walking the beaches of Doonbeg in Co Clare.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist