LIFESTYLE
19/02/2016 12:02 GMT | Updated 19/02/2016 12:59 GMT

Cervical Cancer Survivor, 24, Describes Symptoms On Facebook To Help Other Young Women

A cervical cancer survivor is warning other women about symptoms of the disease after she was diagnosed at just 24 years old.

Heather Keating wrote on Facebook: "I was diagnosed with stage one cervical cancer at the age of 24. Because I was 24 I was not entitled to a free smear and the early cell changes in my cervix were not picked up.

"I started bleeding between my periods and bleeding after sex. I went to see my GP and was told to come back when I was 25 for a smear. I thought that's fine. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I had cancer."

Keating posted the status last month for Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, but it's since gained attention from news sites around the world.

This week is cervical cancer awareness week. So please share my story to let people know the importance of going for...

Posted by Heather Keating on Monday, 25 January 2016


In the status Keating explained that three months after she noticed the bleeding it increased in regularity, which resulted in her becoming anaemic.

She returned to her GP and was referred to a gynaecologist.

"Biopsies were taken and I was then referred to a gynaecology oncology specialist and then I was brought into the room. You know the room were people get bad news. With the box of tissues on the table. I knew what was coming," she said.

Keating was told she had cervical cancer and underwent an MRI scan to see if the cancer had spread beyond her cervix.

Thankfully it hadn't and doctors were able to remove the cancer from her cervix with surgery.

"Four weeks after being told I had cancer it was gone! I was lucky so so so lucky to have caught it on time," she said.

Currently, women between the ages of 25 and 64 are invited for cervical screening under the NHS.

According to the NHS website, women under the age of 25 aren't routinely invited for screening because "normal developmental cell changes in the cervix can look very similar to abnormal cell changes, leading to unnecessary treatment and worry".

It adds: "Cervical cancer is also very rare in this age group. If you're under the age of 25 and worried about your risk of developing cervical cancer, or you're concerned about other aspects of your sexual health, visit your GP or your local GUM clinic for advice."

In most cases, vaginal bleeding is the first noticeable symptom of cervical cancer. It usually occurs after having sex. Other symptoms may include pain and discomfort during sex and an unpleasant smelling vaginal discharge.

Writing for The Independent, Keating said she hopes that women who have read her story will be mindful of the symptoms of cervical cancer, regardless of their age.

"I hope my story will help others see the importance of going for smears and listening to your body and knowing when something isn’t right," she said.

"And, for the under-25s, it's always worth knowing the symptoms of something that's already gone wrong."

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