A mum-of-two is calling for all women invited for cervical screening to take up the offer after losing her mother to the disease.
Lesley Easterbrook, 44, from Gosport, is sharing her story during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (Monday 21 – Sunday 27 January). She is keen to let other women know about the importance of cervical screenings, and how they should be a part of a normal routine rather than something that is feared or avoided. The call comes after Lesley experienced cervical cancer within her immediate family.
Lesley said: “My mother died of cervical cancer in her forties, after having no smear tests in her lifetime. Back then, her age group didn’t realise how important it was, and it could have been avoided. It makes me more aware.”
After losing her mother to cancer, Lesley has since been screened from the early age of nineteen and has been vigilant in attending all of her appointments ever since. Because of this, Lesley says she always reminds her friends and family to attend their cervical screening appointments.
Unlike many women, Lesley does not let fear stop her from booking her cervical screening every three years. When moving to Gosport from a different county recently, Lesley made sure to book in her next appointment at her local GP. After her most recent screening, Lesley received the news that her results had come back as abnormal.
Thanks to her vigilance and proactive attitude, Lesley has been swiftly booked in at Queen Alexandra Hospital since receiving her results and has said that the service she has received has been brilliant. Katie Candy, a Clinical Nurse Specialist within the Gynaecology department on D level at QA Hospital, took the time to explain the situation to Lesley and provided her with plenty of information. This helped to put Lesley’s mind at rest and made things easier.
Lesley said: “Katie was very good, it was one of the best experiences I’ve had. I’ve been treated with courtesy, and the set up in the Gynaecology department is very tidy, clean and efficient. The receptionist was also great.”
Lesley, who works as a Cleaning Operative, believes the most important thing for women to remember is that a cervical screening, previously known as a smear test, is designed to spot not only cervical cancer, but any other underlying cervical issues that a woman may have. This is vital information, and is another reason why Lesley strongly encourages women to go into their local GP surgery and speak with someone if they are nervous or apprehensive.
Lesley said: “I would say a woman can cause herself a lot more hardship if they avoid the test.”
With her experience of cancer in her family and a cousin who is a nurse, Lesley truly realises how important cervical screenings are for women, and feels that it should simply be seen as part of a general wellbeing check.
She said: “It’s to check everything is in working order, like an MOT! Seeing it as a ladies’ wellbeing check-up makes it less scary.”
Lesley has two children, 23-year-old Sara and 19-year-old Anwar, and she always encourages Sara to attend her screening appointments. She says: “I’ll go with her. I’d tell other women to go with a friend or family member if they’re shy. You could go for a coffee afterwards and make it more normal.”
Lesley wants to bring awareness to the fact that when you avoid a screening it is much worse than not attending, as this means you are risking not knowing about any possible abnormalities.
Lesley’s outlook is: “If you don’t get your check, you don’t know, and you can stress more by worrying about it.”
Cervical screenings can be lifesaving; please do not miss your appointment if you are invited. If you have any worries or queries, please contact your GP. Find out more by clicking below.