Cervical Cancer Prevention week is an annual event held across the UK in a bid to raise awards for the almost wholly preventable disease.
Buzz News interview Laura Flaherty, a Cervical cancer and HPV survivor, who following her experience has become a volunteer for Jo’s cervical cancer trust who are running a #smearforsmear campaign all this week for cervical cancer prevention week.
This comes after BUzz reported yesterday that Dorset based charity GO Girls have launched a campaign focused on encouraging young girls to get their HPV vaccine as part of Cervical Cancer Prevention week.
“Going for a smear test saved my life, there’s no two ways about it.”
The NHS encourages women to get smear tests routinely every three years, from age 25- 64. Laura was diagnosed when she was just 29 years old.
She had received several letters from the NHS politely reminding her to attended her smear tests, of which she ignored for several months, apprehensive of the negative connotations surrounding smear tests, the misconceptions she had around cancer such as, “I was pretty sure I’d know if I had cancer.” depleted any sense of responsibility or urgency on her end.
After several nagging attempts from her mother, Laura finally booked the smear test with her local clinic for the next day.
She added: “I couldn’t believe I’d made such a fuss.”
The smear test was nowhere near as daunting as Laura had initially thought, with her nerves dissolving after the nurse joked,
“No-ones ever happy to see me.”
After waiting five weeks for a letter, Laura was devastated to see she had tested positive for high risk HPV, which causes 70% of all cervical cancers. After a frantic online search, “Dr Google” informed Laura she had a sexually transmitted infection.
She describes how she was upset and furious. Confusion by the STI result caused her to not inform anyone of the results of her test, ashamed of the diagnosis and the negative connotations that might ensue.
Laura returned to the doctor to have a colposcopy to remove the affected area, still not worried by the looming possibility that she may, in fact, have cervical cancer.
A few short days later, Laura received a phone call, asking her to come to the doctor’s surgery to discuss her results.
She said: “I begged him to save me. I’ve got two young children, if I died they won’t remember me.
“I don’t care how, just fix it, I’m too young to die, I’m not ready.”
Laura was diagnosed with cervical cancer on the 24th June, she received a hysterectomy on the 26th July and was given the all clear by the end of August.
Over a third of women are said to miss their cervical cancer screenings every year due to embarrassment and 63% of women diagnosed survive for more than ten years.(NHS)
“We are so close to eradicating cervical, but so far away of people don’t go for their smear tests”
99.8% of cervical cancers are preventable (NHS) and most are caused by infections such as HPV, which can be identified in its early stages through smear tests.
“I understand it’s not easy for everyone to go for their screening but the support is out there.”
If you are between the ages of 25-64 contact your local GP or sexual health clinic to book a smear test.
Listen here to the full interview with Laura: