CANCER CAMPAIGNER Vicky Phelan has shared some optimistic news about her cancer treatment in the US: there are signs that her cancer is responding to experimental new US drugs.
Ms Phelan has been separated from her family since January while she’s been living in Maryland to take part in an immunotherapy drug trial.
Speaking on RTÉ's Ray D'Arcy Show, she confirmed that she has so far had three doses of the new drug.
Ms Phelan said that she is hopeful this will work and that her blood levels are showing signs that her terminal cancer is responding to the treatment.
In 2014, Ms Phelan was diagnosed with terminal cancer after receiving a false negative cervical smear test carried out as part of CervicalCheck in 2011.
Discovering that the smear test results had been inaccurate in 2017, she took the US laboratory that carried it out court, and in 2018, Ms Phelan was awarded a €2.5m settlement by Ireland’s High Court.
In her interview on Monday, the cancer campaigner said that her next scan will take place on 23 March.
"I’m really good now this week, thank God," she said. "I’m quite positive and fairly hopeful that this is going to work for me.
"One of the things they’re looking at in my blood is my CA125 levels [...] When I started here in January my levels were 330 or more, and the normal level was less than 45.
"And already after just two treatments my levels have gone down to 104, so my doctor said that he’s hopeful that’s a good indicator that the level of cancer in my body is starting to go down, so that’s a good sign”, her magazine reported.
If her condition remains unchanged and her tumours are the same size or have grown, however, she will be removed from the trial that day, she said.
Ms Phelan said the drug she is currently trialling is similar to Pembrolizumab, which she has responded well to in the past.
Encouragingly, her doctor has informed her that half of the people on the trial have responded well to the new drug.
Ms Phelan said it was hard being separated from her family, especially as she missed her son Darragh's tenth birthday last weekend.
"It was a tough weekend," she said "...it was the first one I missed ... but I'm logical and I say to myself: I'm not there for this one but hopefully I'll be there for the next one'."