Broadcaster and cancer survivor Evelyn looks at women’s experience of cancer diagnosis in Ireland, and how we can give patients the care they deserve

 

It has been 10 years since Evelyn O’Rourke was diagnosed with breast cancer, while on maternity leave with her first child and expecting her second.

Now as she hits that personal milestone, and with the CervicalCheck scandal still unresolved, Evelyn investigates what has changed in the past decade in treatment, support, trials, screening and outcomes for women with cancer.


Every year, 10,500 women in Ireland are diagnosed with cancer, and the number is rising. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the health system, affecting cancer care services, and the fallout of the cervical cancer scandal has undermined trust.

In this documentary, Evelyn learns of other women’s experiences of cancer diagnosis and treatment, and how it has impacted their lives.

Under the shadow of Covid, Evelyn asks director Dr Nóirín Russell about rebuilding trust in the CervicalCheck programme. The Irish Cancer Society paint a bleak picture of a long-term fallout due to the pandemic and Cancer Trials Ireland urge us to invest in trials.

Evelyn’s own doctor Professor Janice Walshe shares the massive improvements in how some breast cancers are treated in the last 10 years, and how for some patients treatment with chemo can now be avoided altogether.

Evelyn meets widower and 221+ activist Stephen Teap and hears how since his wife Irene died of cervical cancer, he has campaigned tirelessly alongside Vicky Phelan for the women affected by the scandal.

The psychological and emotional impact of cancer on a woman is significant and Evelyn meets psychotherapist Stella O’Malley to explore the effect of a cancer experience and they discuss how best to support these women.

Evelyn also speaks to midwife Ruth O’Connor who is taking part in an international trial for breast cancer in Dublin, about the hope trials bring and how essential they are. Longford mother and 221+ member Lynsey Bennett shares her experience of travelling abroad for treatment in Mexico.

Evelyn O’Rourke: Ailse & Ise is on TG4 at 9.30pm on Wednesday, 12 May.