My mum hadn't attended regular cervical screenings and she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1997 sadly losing her battle to the disease in 1999. As a result, when in December 2002 my smear test came back showing cervical abnormalities, I was very frightened and I believed my life was going to end. I was referred for a colposcopy and at the clinic the medical staff were aware of my family history and offered reassurance throughout the procedure, which was very helpful. They explained that as the abnormalities had been detected early, before cancer could develop, that I was going to be fine. When I underwent LLETZ treatment to remove the abnormal cells I was very surprised to feel very little discomfort but was aware of the strong 'burning' smell. Once again the nurse explained that this was normal. The whole procedure was over after only 30 minutes. Following the procedure I had some light bleeding for 2 or 3 days. I had a repeat smear 3 months after treatment and was overjoyed when it came back normal. I then went on to have yearly smears for 10 years, all of which were negative, and I'm now back to routine 3-yearly checks.
At the time of my treatment I was working as a nurse in Cardiology in Belfast but I decided I wanted to do something to promote well being for women in relation to cervical screening. In 2011 I was offered the post of practice nurse in my own GP practice and I completed the breast and cervical screening course at Queens University, Belfast, and now carry out the majority of cervical screening within the practice.
I am living proof that cervical screening saves lives and I often wonder if my mum had attended her routine smear, whether she would still be here today.