A smear test could, quite literally, save your life. It saved mine

I was 32 years old with a five and three year old, and I was told I had cervical cancer

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The Independent Online

I have the best reason to want to support the latest campaign to raise awareness of the importance of smear tests. In December 2013, I had just turned 32 and was due to attend a smear test (cervical screening). I had received an invitation to book an appointment and I had intended to call the doctors straight away. But Christmas was on its way, and I simply forgot.

As time went on, I started to have irregular mid-cycle bleeding. I told my doctor about it, but I was on the implant and doctors said it was a common side effect of my contraception. I saw my doctor for different things over the next few months, and each time I told them about the bleeding but was told I could not have my smear test done while I was bleeding as this would interfere with the results. So my overdue test was delayed stilll further.

The bleeding became more regular throughout 2014, and I was getting concerned so I went back to the doctor. They put me on the mini pill and the implant to help stop the bleeding and regulate my periods. However, the mini pill made me so moody and emotional that I stopped taking it after a month.

The bleeding got less at this point and I was finally able to have my smear test. But by then, it was seven months overdue.

That is when my worst fears were realised. I had abnormal cells and was required to attend a colposcopy appointment in hospital where a Lletz procedure was carried out to remove abnormal cells and take a biopsy. The nurse told me that there was a large abnormal area, but that she had removed everything and that if there was anything more serious I would hear in about two weeks. If I didn’t hear from them then the biopsy results were clear and I would have check-ups every six months.

Two weeks passed with no letter so I was feeling hopeful that everything was fine. At three weeks and one day I received a big shock again; a letter came through telling me an appointment had been made for me with a gynaecologist.

My husband and I went to the appointment together, and in my mind I tried to prepare myself for the worst outcome, but when the doctor told me I had stage 1b1 cervical cancer I was devastated. Nothing could have prepared me for this news. I was 32 years old with a five and three year old at home, and I just didn't expect that to be the result after everything that had been said.

I underwent a radical hysterectomy in November last year. Everything went as planned, and I was told I was cancer free in December. It was a huge relief.

I’ve experienced first hand just how important smear tests are and as a result feel passionate about the #SmearForSmear campaign lead by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. I would strongly stress to every woman never to delay or ignore their smear test invitation. My story shows it could, quite simply, save your life. So girls (and boys) grab your lipstick, share your smear selfie and remind loved ones to go book their smear test.

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