In the summer of 2015, my husband and I chose to take a year out and move abroad to Hong Kong. My mother-in-law had suddenly passed away following a second short battle with breast cancer and we thought some time away would be what we needed. I had been putting off having my smear test for years - partly due to working odd shifts but mainly because I just didn't want to - but my husband forced me to go before we left.
3 days before I was due to fly, a letter arrived to say they had found abnormal cells. Unfortunately this put an end to my dream of travelling and working abroad. 2 more biopsies and 3 months later I was finally diagnosed with stage 1b cervical cancer. Luckily it wasn't aggressive and after another 4 months of scans, biopsies, probes, radioactive injections and surgery to remove my pelvic lymph nodes, I was told Bob, my tumour, hadn't spread. At the end of April I had surgery to remove Bob and in June I was given the all clear, with no further treatment required.
I'd had no symptoms prior to my smear test, so I know I was very lucky that my cancer was found before it had spread, when I would have needed chemotherapy, radiotherapy and would have lost my chance at having children. I'm now happy and healthy and proof of how important cervical screening really is.
This week is Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, and I'm asking all my lovely friends and family to help spread the word with #SmearForSmear and to book a smear test if it is due. 1 in 4 women don't attend their smear test (guilty!) but that quick appointment could save your life. It saved mine.
Don't be afraid, don't put it off. I'm happy to answer any questions if it helps people get to that smear test.