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LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 16-Jun-15 16:08:25

Cervical Screening Awareness Week: Cheryl's story

In the UK the cervical screening programme saves around 5,000 lives every year. Attending cervical screening when invited reduces a woman's risk of developing cervical cancer. However one in five women does not attend. For women aged above 50, attendance drops off further as they approach their last invitation with one in four in the 60-64 age groups not attending. This is worrying because the most recent data for England shows that over a third of diagnoses of cervical cancer are in women over the age of 50 and those aged 50-64 are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced stage cervical cancer, with 49 per cent as stage two or later.

This week is Cervical Screening Awareness Week and a chance to remind your loved ones to attend screening when invited or book that overdue smear test. If you're worried about the test or have questions about whether you should attend, speak to Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust on 0808 802 8000 or visit their for more information.

58-year-old Cheryl tells us about how a routine smear saved her life.

Cheryl/Jo's Trust

Cervical screening awareness week: Cheryl's story

Posted on: Tue 16-Jun-15 16:08:25


Lead photo

58-year-old Cheryl, whose routine smear test saved her life.

I have never missed or been late for my smear test as I believe it to be very important. It's not the most pleasant of things, but what's a few minutes of being uncomfortable compared to the possible alternative.

I went for my routine smear test on 6 August 2013. On Saturday 17 August I received a letter saying I had severe dyskaryosis and needed to have a colposcopy. I had never heard these words before and although information had been sent explaining everything, I spent an awful lot of time Googling. It was at that time that I came across the Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust website.

I went for my colposcopy on 19 August 2013 and my husband came in with me to hold my hand. There were two brilliant nurses there, chatting away about the soaps and taking my mind off of things. The consultant did his stuff and said afterwards that he had removed the cells. I can honestly say it didn't hurt. I thought that was the end of it and I was so relieved as I had been so scared.

However, on Friday 30 August 2013 I received a phone call from the hospital saying the consultant wanted to see me on Monday. I was shopping at the time and went instantly numb, the gut reaction was that something was wrong. My husband and I met with the consultant on that Monday and there was a Macmillan nurse present. The consultant started saying that there was a problem and that something had been found higher up the cervix. Everything seemed to be in a haze and I had trouble concentrating on what was being said. I remember saying to him "are you saying I have cervical cancer?" to which he said yes. I asked him what grade as I had been doing a lot of research on the subject and knew about the grades by then. He said 1b1 (which was later confirmed by the MRI) and that I would need a hysterectomy, but an MRI would be done first. I was terrified of this as I am claustrophobic.

For women aged above 50, attendance drops off further as they approach their last invitation with one in four in the 60-64 age groups not attending.

I went back to work that afternoon. Luckily my husband works at the same place as I just felt like I was on auto pilot - as though it was all happening to someone else. That night it hit me and I couldn't eat or sleep. I didn't go to work the next day as I kept breaking down crying.

My surgery was scheduled for 8 October 2013 and I went to hospital late morning for the surgery in the afternoon. I can honestly say the experience was much better than I thought it would be. I had some problems with an abscess afterwards, but other than that everything had gone well and later that month I wad declared cancer free, the lymph nodes were clear.

I didn't know anything about cervical cancer or the causes etc. prior to my diagnosis. That sounds pretty ignorant I know, but I really don't think women are educated enough about it. Overall, I consider myself to be very lucky. It was caught at an early stage thankfully, due to me attending my smear test on time. The operation was better than I expected and I am making a positive recovery. I feel I have a future to look forward to thanks to a wonderful consultant and an excellent medical team.

For more information on Cervical Screening Awareness Week, just visit the Jo's Trust website.

By Cheryl/Jo's Trust

Twitter: @JoTrust

tanith Tue 16-Jun-15 19:02:50

I asked at my GP surgery about having a smear test done as I'm now 66 and no longer called, the nurse said I could if I wanted but as I have attended every test I've ever been called for and never had an abnormal result she said I really have nothing to worry about so I've not bothered to book one.

I do know a lot of women who don't go for testing though, including one of my daughters, she just had her first one recently and she's in her 40's so my guess is there are lots of women who need a swift kick up the backside to go and get tested.

GG62 Tue 16-Jun-15 19:50:36

Thankyou for your story. I have just received an invitation for a smear test and had decided to ignore it (for the first time) because I'm 62 and didn't feel that I would be at risk. After reading this I will make an appointment pronto.

Victoria08 Fri 19-Jun-15 10:26:11

I am nearly 70 years old. Do you think they would give me a test at my age.

Bez Fri 19-Jun-15 10:39:54

It is the mammogram I am surprised they stop screening for as late onset breast cancer is quite prevalent. My mother had it when she was 68 and because of this although I was not routinely called for screening after i wa the max age I could always make an appointment when I saw the mobile unit in Sainsbury's car park. Here in France they do it to a slightly older age and I had one a year or so ago but am now over the age range so will speak to the GP when my friend gets her next call.

glammyP Sat 27-Jan-18 10:30:57

Cervical cancer is about the 'down below bits' as my mother used to call them! The smear test is just a look to make sure everything is healthy. After all we go to then dentist to make sure our teeth are healthy don't we? And hopefully we've enjoyed a happy sex life and many of us continue to do so well into our 70s so it makes sense to make sure the cervix is healthy doesn't it? That said if you are over 65 and have had clear results on a previous tests, so long as the last one was approximately three years ago, then you shouldn't need to have another one. However always be aware of abnormal bleeding or pain on intercourse then of course go to your GP to get it sorted. Do visit Jo's website it's got all the info you'll ever need on cervical issues. They were my lifesaver after I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and here I am 13yrs later. So it's not a death sentence anymore especially if an issue is caught before cancer can develop, then we will only ever deal with abnormalities. 5mins of unpleasantness for years of good healthy 'down below bits'. SO GO GET CHECKED LADIES

gmelon Thu 15-Mar-18 18:10:40

Thank you to "glammyp".
I had my appointment reminder in the post a few weeks ago. Ignored it. Forgot it.

Your words have made me see clearly for the first time. Everything you say is true, my mindset is totally changed .

On my previous examination three years ago I'd left it for seven years, wasnt intending on going ever again.
Got shocked into going for a full "down below " range of scans and tests when my sister aged 56yrs died very swiftly because of ovarian cancer. (YES I KNOW CERVICAL CANCERS ARE NOT OVARIAN CANCER)