THE BLOG

How Delaying a Smear Test Nearly Left My Children Without a Mum

29/01/2015 17:23 GMT | Updated 31/03/2015 10:59 BST

Being diagnosed with cervical cancer after delaying my first smear test for two years was devastating and the reason why I think Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust's #SmearForSmear campaign is so important.

When I was 25 and received my first smear test invitation I didn't think it was important to attend. My life as a wife and mother of three was just too busy to fit in an appointment.

In 2008 two years had passed and I had still not attended. After having my fourth child Ruby that year and getting the implant I started to have the most painful pelvic cramps. I would be doubled over in agony for about an hour and then suddenly the pain would go. This happened once or twice a month. I then also started to have very irregular periods, I would bleed for three weeks, stop bleeding for just a couple of days and then I would be back on my period again. This all went on for some months before I went to see a doctor. The doctor listened to my symptoms and concerns and calmed me down assuring me these were all side effects from the implant. My symptoms got worse but I didn't want to go back to the doctor as I thought I would be bothering him.

Then one day I switched on the TV and Jade Goody's recent death after her battle with cervical cancer was being discussed. At that moment I knew I needed to get a smear test as soon as possible, deep down I could feel something was seriously wrong.

I was screened shortly after and the results came back abnormal with the letter telling me I needed to go for a colposcopy. At the appointment the nurse told me she could see the abnormal area on my cervix and that I would need treatment. She took a biopsy of the cells and told me I would hear from them soon.

Six weeks later I was back at the hospital where I was told I had high grade cell changes (Cin 3), and that I needed to have a Lletz operation to remove the bottom of my cervix. They said they would also take a biopsy but that I shouldn't hear from them again. However, two weeks later I received a letter asking me to go for further examinations.

Nothing could have prepared me for what they told me at the next appointment. I had cervical cancer! I was devastated and the news hadn't even sunk in completely when I was told I needed an MRI scan to see if the cancer had spread.

Everything happened very quickly at this point and after the scan it was confirmed that I had stage 2 cervical cancer and needed a radical hysterectomy and some of my lymph nodes removed.

Within two weeks, on the 10th June 2010 I underwent the operation. It turned out that that was the easy part. What I wasn't prepared for were my emotions. To come to the realisation that you have cancer and that there is a chance I won't survive - that I won't see my kids grow up is overwhelming. I was also convinced the cancer would spread, that with every ache and pain the cancer had returned.

Five years on I'm cancer free and I make sure to tell my own daughters in the future how important screening is. My oldest daughter Yasmin has also just received her HPV vaccination in school which is great as she is now protected against 70% of cervical cancers. I will still be encouraging them to attend screening though as they still need to attend.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep up to date with smear tests which is why seeing girls posting their #SmearForSmear selfies is fantastic, I really hope they act as a reminder to thousands of women across the world. And, if it prevents just one woman from going through what I have experienced it's done its job.

So go smear your lippy girls and please book your smears when you're invited, it could save your life!

Find out more about the #SmearForSmear campaign here: www.jostrust.org.uk/smearforsmear