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27 Nov 2021

'I don't want to die' - Limerick mother Vicky Phelan stirs emotions across the country with moving interview

'I don't want to die' - Limerick mother Vicky Phelan stirs emotions across the country with moving interview

Vicky Phelan was treated by her favourite band The Stunning to a rendition of Brewing Up a Storm on Friday night's Late Late Show

WOMEN’s health advocate Vicky Phelan says she made the difficult decision to stop chemotherapy to ensure that the remaining time she has left with her children is as enjoyable and memorable as possible.

"I don't want to die," the 47-year-old mother-of-two told Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show on Friday night.

"I am a young woman and I have young children and that's what's made me fight for more time with them and I'm glad I've got the last four years, but you still want more, but I don't ever think too far ahead."

The honesty and strength shown by Vicky in the interview has sparked a huge outpouring of messages of support from right across the country with mothers, sports stars, politicians and media personalities all paying tribute to her bravery.

The Kilkenny native who has lived between Annacotty in Limerick and Doonbeg in County Clare in more recent years, said that just four weeks ago, "I didn’t think I’d see Christmas".

"That’s how real this is for me at this stage," she noted. "I spoke to my oncologist when I made the decision not to have any more chemotherapy. I mean, I think he was hoping I’d have a few more sessions. And I just said, no, I'm not doing this to my kids, I’m not doing this to myself at this stage."

Vicky, who is mother to 16-year-old Amelia and 10-year-old Darragh, initially felt "I had to give the chemotherapy a go because I didn't really have any more options", after the treatment in the United States didn’t work out for her. 

Vicky recalled the dark period she experienced at home in bed after her first chemotherapy treatment on October 18 last. 

“I could not get out of bed until the 29th of October - that’s how bad it was,” she said.

“Darragh wouldn’t even come into the room, that’s how bad it was and that’s what really killed me,” said Vicky.  “He would just peek his head in the door and could see I was green, I was vomiting... I couldn’t even talk to the kids. I couldn’t even have a conversation with the kids. It was horrendous. It really was.

"And I just thought, I can’t do this to them.

"I'd rather be well and have a shorter time frame if that’s the way it’s going to be, than be like that.

"At this stage, I’ve been fighting this terminal part of the disease since 2018,” she said.

Vicky, who used to manage the literacy development centre at Waterford Institute of Technology before her illness became too much, said she is feeling well at the moment - she continues to take Pembro, a cancer treatment drug.

 “I had Pembro last Monday and look at me. To me, that's what I want. This quality of life, not what I had.”

Vicky opened up on how she has planned her own funeral, which she said will be a humanist ceremony.

"I'm a control freak, no one will be planning anything without my say so," she said.

She also asked surprise guest performers Steve and Joe Wall from The Stunning if they would perform at her funeral which they agreed to, and Niall Breslin and The Blizzards have also agreed to perform.

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