When Vicky Phelan delivered an emotionally charged statement from the steps of the Four Courts in April 2018 - having refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement in the settlement of her action against the HSE - she unearthed the medical and political scandal of our times. It would emerge that, like Vicky, 220 other women who were diagnosed with cervical cancer were not informed that a clinical audit -carried out by the national screen programme CervicalCheck - had revised their earlier, negative smear tests. Their cancers could possibly have been preventable.
Since then, Vicky has become women's voice for justice on the issue, and her system-changing activism has made her a household name.
In her memoir Overcoming, Vicky shares her remarkable personal story, from a life-threatening accident in early adulthood through to motherhood, a battle with depression, her devastating later discovery that her cancer had returned in shocking circumstances - and the ensuing detective-like scrutiny of events that led the charge for her history-making legal action.
An inspiring story of rare resilience and power, Overcoming is an account of how one woman can move mountains - even when she is fighting for her own life - and of finding happiness and strength in the toughest of times.
'Calls to mind the work of Emilie Pine, or the memoir by Maggie O'Farrell, I Am, I Am, I Am ... Overcoming is more than the retelling of an extraordinary life. Its pacing and gentleness leaves plenty of room for tears and for reflection' Irish Independent
Vicky Phelan is mother to Amelia and Darragh, married to Jim and living in Limerick, Ireland. She is a lifelong learner and has always worked in the education field. She credits her education with giving her the tools to take on her greatest challenge - fighting for her life. By going public on her court action against the HSE in 2018, she broke the cervical cancer scandal, where 221 known sufferers, including herself, were not told of a clinical audit that had revised their earlier negative smear tests: their cancers could possibly have been prevented.
Since then she has become a household name in Ireland, for her powerful advocacy work to ensure that standards and accountability are brought to bear within the Irish health service so that what happened to her and others can not happen again. Overcoming: A Memoir is her first book.