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Mum hopes her story will inspire more women to have cancer test

PUBLISHED: 11:30 29 January 2016 | UPDATED: 12:42 29 January 2016

Becky Marsh who is encouraging women to go for regular cancer screenings. Picture: Nick Butcher

Becky Marsh who is encouraging women to go for regular cancer screenings. Picture: Nick Butcher

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A mother who discovered she had cervical cancer after a smear test is backing a national campaign urging women to go for screenings.

Becky Marsh from North Cove had a routine screening in 2014, revealing abnormalities which later proved to be cancerous cells.

And now Miss Marsh, 36, has spoken out during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, about the importance of getting tested.

She said: “You don’t think anything of a routine smear, I had it and then a week later I got a letter saying the smear had revealed some abnormal changes and they wanted to book me in for a colposcopy.”

During the procedure, an area of abnormal cells were discovered, and sent away for biopsy.

“I got a call back to say I needed to come in and discuss the results and I did a lot of research online before I went for the appointment because I thought I knew what was coming,” she said.

“They told me they had removed all the abnormal cells and they had found they were cancerous, but 
there was a good, clear margin around them so they believed they had got it all.”

During her research, Miss Marsh came across Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, the only charity in the UK dedicated to supporting women and their loved ones who are affected by cervical abnormalities.

The trust launched a campaign last year to encourage 25 to 29-year-old women to go for screening, as one in three in the age group do not have regular smears.

And it has been relaunched for Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, which runs until tomorrow.

“I’ve always gone for smears,” said Miss Marsh, who works as an accounts clerk. “It takes three minutes to do it, you go in, have it done, it’s over in a few minutes and then you wait for a letter saying everything’s fine.

“And even if you get one back saying they’ve found something abnormal it’s not the end of the world.”

Miss Marsh’s incredibly early diagnosis meant the cancer was at Stage 1a, meaning it was treated quickly and relatively easily, and she has inspired many of her friends to visit their doctor for regular smears.

“All my friends and family have had theirs done now and some of them have been told they have abnormal cells,” she said. “If it’s caught early it’s much more treatable.

“But it’s a weird feeling to say I had cancer - I had no symptoms.”

While she still has regular screening, the mum of one said her brush with cancer will always be in the back of her mind.

“The fear never goes away,” she said. “It will always be there.”

Cervical cancer diagnoses are the highest since 1999, except for a huge screening uptake in 2009 following Jade Goody’s battle with the disease.

Robert Music, chief executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “Cervical cancer is a preventable disease and we cannot afford for incidences to keep rising.

“So it is a matter of urgency that we see positive actions to turn around the downward trend in cervical screening uptake.”

The trust is also calling on policy makers and health professionals to work breaking down the barriers which stop women being screened.

“We believe the campaign’s success is its simplicity,” he said. “By encouraging women to attend cervical screening it has the potential to save countless lives and ultimately contribute to eradicating this largely preventative and hugely devastating disease.”

Public Health Minister Jane Ellison added: “We know that many women, particularly younger women, are not accepting their invitation to be screened. I encourage all eligible women to make that important choice and have their smear test when invited.”

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust helpline is 0808 802 8000. visit www.jostrust.org.uk/support/helpline for the helpline’s opening times.

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