Why are we watching?
If you’re an avid Coronation Street fan, you’ll be fully aware of the dramatic cervical cancer storyline unfolding on our screens. It’s a story that’s sparking conversation, so even if you aren’t glued to your TV it’s not unlikely that you’ll have heard about it.
Last year, Sinead Tinker, played by Katie McGlynn, was diagnosed with cervical cancer during her pregnancy. Sinead was given an impossible choice – to terminate the pregnancy and begin her cancer treatment or continue with the pregnancy and begin her treatment after giving birth.
It’s a heart breaking choice to make and Sinead chose to keep her baby and delay treatment. Last month we found out her cancer very sadly returned and it was revealed that she only has weeks to live. We have been working with the team at Coronation Street for the past year advising on the storyline and working with the writers to check details and ensure it is as accurate a storyline as possible.
The story triggers a range of emotions and we know that for some people it is too close to home and may be difficult to watch. We want to remind you that we’re here for you, no matter how long ago your diagnosis was. If you have been affected by cancer in pregnancy then you can also get specific support from the charity Mummy’s Star.
So, why have we welcomed this storyline?
- We know awareness of cervical cancer is low and having a story play out on such a big platform is a fantastic way of increasing understanding about the cancer and what it can be like to be living with it.
- The storyline challenges myths about cervical cancer, such as it only happens to older women or promiscuous people.
- It has started conversations about the ways in which cervical cancer can be prevented. We have seen many people saying the plot has encouraged or reminded them to book in for their smear test which is fantastic. We love to see this happening, and it’s been great to see people sharing tips for making the test easier and words of support on social media. We’ve seen news stories that show the effect that this storyline is having, with GPs reporting an uptake in smear test appointments being booked.
- It covers symptoms. Sinead was bleeding between periods which is the number one symptom of cervical cancer. The show presents a good reminder to get any unusual bleeding checked.
- Another prominent part of the story is Daniel’s (Sinead’s partner) experience of supporting Sinead through her diagnosis and coming to terms with her death. It shines a really important light on the myriad ways a partner might be feeling and the need for partners to be equally supported. (Check out our support and information days which are anyone affected by cervical cancer, including loved ones and partners).
- It has been extremely important to us that the story is as consistent and accurate to real life as possible. This spans big parts Sinead’s story such as treatment pathways and how she might be responding to treatment, as well as details in scenes including who would be in consultations rooms and how patient notes look. We worked with the team to ensure the cancer was still present when the scene wasn’t directly about cancer, this included details such as Sinead being off her food and needing the loo more.
- The psychological impact of living with cervical cancer, especially an incurable diagnosis, comes through very clearly. This is again something we worked with the writers to portray. We see the impact of cervical cancer every day at Jo’s, and know that it can affect every area of life both during treatment and for a long time after.
Remember to take care of yourself if you choose to watch, and remember that our support services are there for you.