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LISTEN: Painting of Vicky Phelan in Solas Centre for January

A specially commissioned painting of Vicky Phelan now takes pride of place at The Solas Cancer Support Centre in Waterford for the month of January, as part of Cervical Cancer Prevention week.

The Centre in Williamstown will open its doors to the public on Saturday, January 29th between 10am and 3pm, and visitors can view the portrait.

It measures 300cm by 150cm and was painted by Tullamore-based artist Vincent Devine. It tells the story of Mooncoin native Vicky's life in three panels. The painting was commissioned by charity Heroes Aid and raised โ‚ฌ58,000 to assist frontline healthcare workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was purchased by David Brennan, a family friend of Vicky Phelan. He said, โ€œMy wife and I agreed we had to make sure that this Portrait of Vicky made it to Mooncoin. The Portrait had so much more meaning and I had imagined that its life needed to be dedicated to Vickyโ€™s campaign of awareness and advocacy for womenโ€™s health and cancer patients.โ€

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The County Kilkenny native, who has been battling cancer for a number of years, brought the CervicalCheck scandal to light in 2018 when she settled a High Court action over a misread smear test.

Vicky has since tirelessly campaigned for women's health rights, and was thrilled to be home in Mooncoin recently, to attend the launch of the painting.

Tracy McDaid, Manager of the Solas Cancer Support Centre said,

It is a privilege to have this iconic portrait of Vicky Phelan on display, especially during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week. Our clients have been blown away by the painting and it is a wonderful talking point when they arrive at the centre

Raising awareness about cervical cancer

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The Solas Cancer Support Centre has also teamed up with the Irish Cancer Society as part of efforts to raise awareness about cervical cancer and early detection. The ICS has been campaigning for the elimination of this disease through high uptake rates of HPV vaccination and screening alongside access to life-saving treatments.

Every year in Ireland approximately 300 people get cervical cancer and 90 women die from it. Almost half of all women diagnosed with cervical cancer are diagnosed in screening. Cervical cancer is the second most common cause of death due to cancer in women aged 25 to 39 years.

Director of Advocacy with the Irish Cancer Society, Rachel Morrogh said, โ€We believe that the elimination of cervical cancer is within our reach, and vaccination against HPV as the leading cause of cervical cancer is a vital tool in this effort. We would also urge women between 25-65 to accept their invitation to participate in CervicalCheck screening.โ€

Event at the Solas Centre on Monday

On Monday January 17th, an event was held at the Solas Cancer Support Centre, where the painting of Vicky Phelan now hangs as part of a Cervical Cancer Awareness Campaign.

In attendance at the event were John and Gaby Kelly, Vicky's parents, artist Vincent Devine, Irish Cancer Society Daffodil nurse Fiona Young and a number Solas Centre staff. Monday's event will be featured on RTร‰'s Nationwideย this coming Monday January 24th.

Damien Tiernan was there for WLR, and he spoke to the various attendees. You can listen back on that here..

More here on Damien's interviews on Deise Today

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