'Please, please have the test – it could save your life'
A MOTHER-of-two dying of cervical cancer is pleading with city women not to put off their smear test.
Thirty-nine-year-old Vicki Harris, from Ham, had her first smear test at the age of 36, and a week later she was told she had cervical cancer.
She is now, during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, urging women across the city to ensure they attend their routine smear tests.
"I wish I'd taken the advice of the NHS and had my smear test from the age of 25. But you never think it will happen to you.
"To those women out there who may also feel like that, please, please go and have a smear test – it could save your life," she said.
Vicki, who has two sons aged 17 and 18, didn't have her first smear test until 2010 because she said she was "put off" by what friends had told her about the procedure.
But just a few weeks after her test Vicki was undergoing intensive radiotherapy for cervical cancer.
She said: "When I was told I had cervical cancer I was so shocked. After six weeks of radiotherapy it had gone and I was told it would never come back."
However, following a prolonged period of ill health at the end of 2011 and a number of different tests and examinations, Vicki's worst fears were confirmed.
"I was told in May 2012 that the cervical cancer had returned and I had about three months to live. I was devastated," she said.
The tumour had returned and was pushing on Vicki's right kidney.
Doctors started Vicki on chemotherapy immediately and she has since had 17 sessions, which resulted in her hair falling out.
"Being told I had just three months to live was the worst day of my life. I had all my sisters around me and everyone was just stunned. It was dreadful," said Vicki.
Currently on a break from the chemotherapy, Vicki's tumour has stabilised, meaning it is not getting any bigger.
She said: "The doctors told me that they couldn't cure me but that they could try and prolong my life.
"I haven't had chemotherapy since October now and my latest scan this month showed that the tumour is stable.
"I was originally only given three months to live, but eight months later I'm still here fighting. I'm setting myself little goals. I wanted to see Christmas and I've done that, now I'm hoping to celebrate my youngest son's 18th birthday and reach my 40th birthday in September.
"Even though I haven't been given long left to live, I wouldn't be here today if I hadn't had that initial smear test.
"You hear people's stories about it being painful and it puts you off but at the end of the day those 10 minutes of discomfort could be the difference between life and death."
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