'If it wasn't for a smear test my daughter might not be here. And neither would I'

'If it wasn't for a smear test my daughter might not be here. And neither would I'

When I was 25, I got my first smear test letter. I avoided it. Not for any particular reason - just because there was a fear of the unknown. It sounds silly now but I didn’t think it was important; I was quite dismissive of it, to be honest.

But a couple of years later, when I was 27, I went to the doctor for a check-up. I was on the contraceptive pill, so had these every six months. But for some reason, this time, I thought: why not have a smear test while I'm here?

The nurse did it and the test was absolutely fine. I felt silly for putting it off for so long because it was so straightforward and quick. I didn’t think any more about it, but then on June 15, 2011, I got a letter saying the test had shown an abnormality that needed to be investigated.

There didn't seem any reason to worry unduly, so I went in for a colposcopy in August, where they examined the neck of my womb through a special microscope. It was obvious the doctor thought there was something slightly amiss but he couldn’t say what he thought it was. I was told to come back for a biopsy procedure known as Large Loop Excision of the Transformation Zone (or Lletz), where they remove any abnormalities with a laser.

At this point it just seemed like the situation was being resolved easily and I didn't think too much of it. The procedure was awful. I was given local anaesthetic and was fully aware of what was going on. It was then I started to worry that something was seriously wrong. I was frightened.

It got worse when I received a phone call, a week later, asking me to come in. Originally, they'd said they would tell me the results over the phone. I knew there was something wrong. I was unbelievably scared. I didn’t know what to think. You don’t imagine for a second the results will actually be cancer, but at the same time you’re still thinking 'it must be cancer because why else would you be summoned to the hospital'?

My partner went with me to the appointment and we were told that what the doctor had removed was cancerous. I switched off after that because I was so shocked. But it was good news: they thought they'd caught everything and that it had been at a very early stage.

I was still referred to Liverpool Women’s Hospital, and they decided to do another biopsy to make sure all the cancerous cells had been removed. There was another anxious wait for the results, but it came back all clear.

Relief doesn't even come close. But I still feared it might have effected my ability to have a family. If the cancer had spread I might have had to have a hysterectomy and would have had no chance of having children whatsoever.

My partner and I had wanted to start trying for a child - but after my operation, the nurse told me I should wait at least a year. I took her advice. Then in March 2013 I found out I was pregnant. I was given a lot of extra maternity care because of my history, but in January last year, Daisy was born. She weighed a healthy nine pounds.

I have no idea why I decided to randomly ask out for a smear test that day - out of the blue. But I’m so glad I did. Had I left it, Daisy might not be here now. I might not be here now.

It’s why I feel this is a really important message to get out to girls: have a smear test now.

It might seem daunting, but it doesn’t hurt. It takes five minutes, if that. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Just do it.

As told to Radhika Sanghani

By Emma Bradshaw,

The Telegraph, Monday 26th January 2015

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