Belfast Telegraph

Widower’s fury that young mum Julie Dignivan was given incorrect smear results

By Rachel Farrell

A grieving widower has spoken of his anger at discovering that his late wife was one of the 17 Irish women who died before knowing they had received incorrect smear test results.

Julie Dignivan was 36 years old when she died on April 8, 2017, after battling cancer for four years.

Ms Dignivan was one of 17 women who died of cervical cancer without being told that a CervicalCheck audit had discovered they were given false negative smear test results.

Her devastated husband Paul was told only this month that discrepancies in his wife's smear test were found in 2016.

The young mother from Fermoy, Co Cork, went for a routine smear test in 2009 and was reassured when she was told no abnormalities were found.

However, her family has now learned that she had pre-cancerous lesions which were missed.

She died leaving a son, Craig (19), daughter Ali (7) and step-daughter Jasmine (17).

"In 2011, she gave birth to our daughter and had some bleeding during the pregnancy - at first she thought it was a miscarriage," Mr Dignivan said.

"There were small signs there at the time. She had the smear in 2013 and when she had it she knew something wasn't right as she was bleeding heavily at this stage."

A biopsy was performed and a few days later Ms Dignivan was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

"It was absolutely devastating," Mr Dignivan said.

Ms Dignivan endured chemotherapy and radiotherapy on and off for the next three years, as the cancer would disappear and come back.

In September 2016, things took a turn for the worse and she was admitted to Marymount Hospice.

She returned home for Christmas but continued to deteriorate and returned to the hospice in March 2017. She died a month later.

"It was four years of it, four years of constantly worrying, scan results and chemotherapy before she passed away," said Mr Dignivan.

"Now it's like it's starting over again, it feels like she passed away from negligence. There was no offers of counselling from the HSE (Health Service Executive)."

On May 2, Mr Dignivan attended a meeting at Cork University Hospital and was told about discrepancies in his wife's earlier smear test.

"When I asked when the review of her smear test took place, the doctor said he couldn't answer but that he would write to CervicalCheck to find out.

"I couldn't even ask them any more questions, it was like there was something caught in my throat. I couldn't even look at them, I was just looking at a paint spot on the wall," he said.

He said his wife "would have wanted her story out there".

"In a hospital you're just a number on a file, but now people can see the faces behind all these women's stories like Julie's."

Belfast Telegraph

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