Macmillan Gynaecology Nurses at The Royal Oldham Hospital are raising awareness about the importance of cervical screening, as cervical cancer remains the most common cancer in women under 35.
Studies show regular cervical screening appointments can prevent up to 75% of instances of cervical cancer, saving 5000 lives per year.
Despite this, many people are reluctant to have this test done, with a quarter of people with a cervix not responding to their screening invitation.
Macmillan Gynaecology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Amanda Storey wants to encourage all who are eligible to take up their smear.
She said: “I want to normalise conversations about smears. I want people to talk about going for a smear as normally as they would talk about going for a haircut.”
“The aim of the smear test is to detect any precancerous changes and treat as needed, to prevent it developing into cancer.
“That’s why it’s so important that people take up their smear and attend appointments on time.”
Amanda and her team support patients like Toni Kernan, when they are diagnosed with cervical cancer.
At the beginning of 2020, Toni and her partner Jordan were excited to start fertility treatment, and be one step closer to starting a family.
When abnormalities were picked up at her first fertility treatment, Toni was advised to attend a smear test before proceeding.
Like many people, Toni had delayed her smear test she was invited to at 25, so didn’t attend her first smear until she was 28.
Regular cervical screening checks are crucial to identify any cell changes early on, as it allows abnormalities to be treated before they turn into cancer.
Toni’s test showed she was positive for HPV and abnormal cells, and further tests showed that she had cervical cancer which had spread to some of her lymph nodes.
In April 2020, Toni began treatment at the Christie to treat her cancer.
“The hardest part about chemo was being young and looking well in a room of people who all looked very poorly.
“It was scary, but I felt the best thing I could do was smile and stay positive. I think that helps other people too, however they might be feeling.”
Drawing on her own experience, Toni is calling for better education around smear tests, as she feels it’s not talked about enough.
She now encourages all those who are eligible to attend for their smears on time, so that any problems can be caught early before they turn into cancer.
She said: “I talk to everyone about it. Having your smear is so important.”
Toni completed her treatment a year ago and has recently started a new, full-time job.
The couple plan on starting the adoption process in the near future.
She said: “I’m doing well and everything is looking up. I’m a positive person and feel positive about the future.”
If you would like to find out more about cervical screening or cervical cancer, visit Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust website at: https://www.jostrust.org.uk/get-involved/campaign/cervical-screening-awareness-week.