Health: Don’t ignore inspiring Victoria’s smear test warning

Victoria Eames and Jenah Colledge. Picture by Tony Johnson.
Victoria Eames and Jenah Colledge. Picture by Tony Johnson.
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Cancer is a word that strikes fear into all of us.

It’s a horrible disease that indiscriminately preys upon our friends and relatives.

That being said, cancer can challenge you no matter your age and our story about dancer Victoria Eames, 32, in yesterday’s YEP sums that up.

A healthy and active young woman, who was planning for a family, was faced with the heartbreaking diagnosis of cervical cancer – although thankfully they caught it early.

Nevertheless her dreams of giving a birth to a child of her own appeared to have been dashed by having the radical hysterectomy she had no option but to undergo.

Now with the considerable backing of her family and best friend Jenah Colledge, who has offered to act as a surrogate mother to Victoria and her partner, she is looking onwards and upwards after being declared cancer-free before the New Year. Her message of positivity is truly inspiring and her willingness to spread her message and support the charities that help others in her situation is admirable.

Another facet to Victoria’s story was the call for women not to ignore routine smear test invitations in this week – Cervical Cancer Prevention Week – of all weeks.

If it wasn’t for Victoria’s own routine appointment, in her own words “it could have been a different story”, and unfortunately as we continue to see young women stricken by this cruel condition it is as important as ever that those warnings are heeded.

In its early stages there usually aren’t any symptoms – it’s impossible to guard against, as most early cancers can be.

If it wasn’t for routine testing we would be reading thousands more heartbreaking tales of early death every year. My own family can attest to that – an early breast cancer screening helped give my mother a few more valuable years.

There’s no reward for taking chances with your health.

SMEAR TEST UPTAKE IS DOWN IN LEEDS

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week runs from January 25 to 31 this year.

Every day nine women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer and three women lose their lives to the disease.

The national screening programme for cervical cancer invites women aged 25 to 49 for smear tests every three years, and women aged 50 to 64 every five years.

The Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust charity claims the uptake of cervical screening is going down year on year, with figures for Leeds reflecting the national trend.

In 2013-14 29 per cent of women in Leeds failed to attend their cervical screening test after being invited to do so compared with 27 per cent in 2012-13.

Visit www.nhs.uk/cervicalcancer for details.

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