A 27-year-old left unable to carry children because of cervical cancer has urged women not to skip their screening tests.
Sarah Donaghey, from Leeds, had to undergo a hysterectomy after she was diagnosed with a high-risk form of the disease aged just 25.
She and her partner are hoping to eventually have a child through IVF, with her mum Linda acting as surrogate.
A first cycle of treatment, paid for through fundraising as the couple were not eligible for free NHS treatment, was unsuccessful.
However the couple can try again later this year and Sarah is continuing to campaign over cervical cancer. Speaking during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, which begins today, she said: “I am really positive about my future with the IVF and if that doesn’t work out then we always have the option to adopt.
“So even though having cervical cancer absolutely tore my world apart, I have not let it stop me and it has made me more determined to make other women realise the importance of going for the smear tests as I wouldn’t want anyone going through what I have been through.”
Sarah, from Moortown, went to her GPs because of unexplained bleeding but cancer was only diagnosed when she was admitted to hospital for tests, as a smear test not long earlier had been clear.
“Be persistent, if you know something is not right then keep going until someone listens,” she said. “The other symptoms I had – which I found out later – were frequently needing to urinate, tiredness, bruising easily and towards the end, pain in my pelvic area.”
After having a radical hysterectomy, she cannot carry children, but can have a child through IVF with a surrogate.
Her mum Linda has agreed to help Sarah and her partner Stuart Simpson and the couple raised thousands for treatment last year. Unfortunately it was unsuccessful but they have embryos in storage to try again.
Now Sarah is backing calls from Leeds health bosses urging all women to attend smear tests, which pick up the two most common cancers.
“It takes five minutes and it is not as uncomfortable as you may think, and it can literally save your life,” she said.