Heather was 24 when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer / Heather Keating - Facebook

Heather Keating was diagnosed with cervical cancer a year before she became eligible for smear tests

A woman who was diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 24 has shared her story and symptoms online in an effort to help other young women who may be at risk. 

Now 25, Heather Keating, from Tipperary, Ireland, was diagnosed a year before she was old enough to be eligible for free smear tests which could have picked up the cancer. 

“Because I was 24 I was not entitled to a free smear and the early cell changes in my cervix were not picked up,” Ms Keating wrote in a Facebook post.

When Ms Keating noticed abnormal bleeding between periods and after sex, she went to her GP and “was told to come back when I was 25”.  

“I thought ‘that’s fine’,” she wrote on Facebook.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I had cancer”. 

When the bleeding got worse and she became anaemic, Ms Keating returned to her GP and was referred to a gynaecologist, and then an oncologist who eventually diagnosed her with stage one cervical cancer. 

Thankfully, the cancer was confined to her cervix, and was treatable with surgery. 

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Now cancer free, Ms Keating said the ordeal was “the most dramatic and emotionally painful experience of my life,” and insisted that “no one should ever have to go through with it.”

She said: “I want to share my story so that there is more awareness around cervical cancer.”

The most common symptoms, which Ms Keating listen on her post are:

  • Abnormal bleeding  - heavier periods, bleeding between periods, bleeding after sex or bleeding after menopause
  • Foul smelling discharge
  • Pain or discomfort in the pelvis, or discomfort during sex. 

Other symptoms, listed by the NHS, include constipation, blood in urine, weight loss and a loss of appetite.