THESE four women all claim they owe their lives to Jade Goody and The Sun, having gone for a smear after reading her tragic story in the paper.
The death of the reality star, left, on Mother’s Day 2009, aged 27, prompted half a million more women than usual to book a cervical screening.
These ladies say they owe their lives to Jade after reading her story in the paper prompted them to go for a smear test[/caption]
The Sun launched a campaign, called Jade’s Legacy, to reinforce the message that smears are essential.
But, ten years on, attendances are at a record low and one in three women diagnosed with cervical cancer every year dies from it.
What became known as “The Jade Goody Effect” has long gone. That is why Fabulous Daily has teamed up with Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust to promote #CheersForSmears, a new campaign to try to encourage women to attend their appointments, no matter what.
Ahead of Channel 4’s new documentary Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain, these four women tell Lynsey Hope tells their stories.
Jade Goody tragically died of cervical cancer ten years ago[/caption]
‘I was only 25, so doctors tried to preserve my fertility’
GEORGINA THORNTON, a rail manager, from Barnsley, South Yorks, was diagnosed with cervical cancer after her second smear aged 25.
The mum-of-one says:”I was called for my second smear just before my 25th birthday, having had one after the birth of my daughter. There’d been so much in the news about what happened to Jade, I booked in straight away.
I think some people are embarrassed but I’d had my daughter Ellie, now 13, at 20 so I was used to being examined down there.
I didn’t think I had anything to worry about. But following the smear in 2010, I got a letter saying they had found abnormal cells on my cervix. I was really worried, so I paid privately for a colposcopy.
Georgia had her second smear test before she was 25[/caption]
The doctor told me there was something seriously wrong and referred be back to Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield. Further scans revealed I had stage two cervical cancer.
The first thing I thought was ‘I don’t want to die, I’ve got a baby to look after’. Because I was young, the doctors tried to preserve my fertility.
They removed all my lymph nodes and I had a cone biopsy, but that didn’t work. I was told it was a high-grade, aggressive cancer and there was a good chance it would return so in October 2010 I had a radical hysterectomy. I didn’t think I’d end up infertile at 25.
The after-effects have been hard. I’ve suffered with health anxiety.
Georgia was terrified she would die when she got diagnosed with cervical cancer[/caption]
I was being monitored for five years, but I couldn’t shake the fear that the cancer would return and I needed cognitive behavioural therapy to help me mentally recover from what happened.
No one should avoid a smear test. It can save your life. I would never have booked in so quickly if Jade Goody hadn’t been in the news so much in the year before.
My doctor told me that if I’d left it just six months, my situation would have been different. I’ll be for ever grateful to our wonderful NHS.
I wish things could have been different for Jade. Her story had a massive impact on me. Us women need to start making our health a priority. Go for your smear, and nag others to do the same.”
When does Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain air?
- Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain starts on Wednesday at 9pm on Channel 4
- The first of the three-part series will last an hour and 5 minutes and will look at Jade’s life since she landed in fourth place on Big Brother 3 in 2002
- And the rest of the series will explore her rollercoaster of a life – going from the nation’s sweetheart to villain and back to being adored and revered during her very public battle with cancer
- As well as looking at the wider picture of where she fit into changing class and culture politics in Britain at the time of her ascent to fame
- The series will feature exclusive interviews as well as never-before-seen clips of the star while exploring how Jade’s life in many ways reflected a time of notable socio-political change in the UK.
‘My attitude was that it wouldn’t happen to me’
RECRUITMENT consultant Hayley Rosindell from Crayford, Kent, was 29 when Jade died – and had never been for a smear.
She says:”I didn’t know much about cervical cancer and didn’t know you could get it at my age. I had been getting reminders to go for my smear but I ignored them.
My mum nagged me about it too but still I never went. I had the attitude that it wasn’t going to happen to me.
Jade died in the March and her story made me more frightened to go. I was worried that if I did have cancer I had ignored it for too long.
Hayley initially ignored prompts to got for a smear test[/caption]
Then I read the Jade’s Legacy campaign in The Sun and decided it was time for a test. I went in May 2009. I was called back as the test showed abnormal cells, but still I wasn’t worried.
I know a lot of women get that. I was referred for a colposcopy. Four weeks later, in September 2009, I got a call saying: “We need to see you.” They didn’t mention cancer at that point.
I was given an appointment with an oncologist and had a scan but nothing showed up so they wanted to do a cone biopsy.
When I went in a week later, the doctor said they’d found an aggressive tumour in my cervix.
Doctors told Hayley that she a tumour in her cervix[/caption]
The next week, in October 2009, I had a hysterectomy at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. I remember asking if I was going to die.
The doctor said he’d do his best to not let that happen. I was frightened. Children weren’t on my mind at that point but it is something that has upset me as I’ve got older.
I’ll never have my own but my husband Jamie, 35, a builder, has twin boys, aged nine. It’s great being a stepmum to them.
When I woke from the op, I said to the doctor: “Is it gone?” He said yes and after that, I felt I could take on the world.
I tell people I’m a Jade Goody survivor. If she’d not been so outspoken about what was happening to her, I don’t know if I ever would have gone for that test.
We have a brilliant screening test, it’s there to save lives. Why don’t more women use it?”
‘When Jade died, I knew I had to book a smear’
HAYLEY PRINCE, a care pract-itioner from Stockport, Greater Manchester, was too busy working to go for her test.
The mum-of-three says:”I went for a smear aged 25, and 28 but, after that, I was busy at work and didn’t go back. It’s not something I worried about. I just hadn’t got round to doing it and I didn’t think it was important.
Haley stopped going for smear tests after she turned 28[/caption]
Then I read about Jade in the paper. I remember The Sun doing a big campaign encouraging more women to go for a smear then, when Jade died on Mother’s Day, I knew I had to book in.
I’d had some pain and bleeding down below. I didn’t want to end up like Jade and decided to get it checked out.
After the test in May 2009, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I was petrified.
My first thought was: “I’m going to die.” I worried for my children and how they’d cope without me.
When diagnosed with cervical cancer, Haley worried how her children would cope if she died[/caption]
It was a massive shock. I grew up without a mum, she died when I was very young and there was no way I wanted my own children Nathan, 21, Joe, 20, and Ben, 15, to go through the same.
In the July, I had a radical hysterectomy at The Christie hospital, Manchester.
The cancer had spread so they removed lymph nodes from my groin and 10cm of my vagina as well. Then I had chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Six weeks of treatment knocked me. I wanted to keep the kids’ lives as normal as possible but getting out of bed was hard work.
Hayley feels she may have avoided the health problems caused by her cancer treatment if she had a smear test sooner[/caption]
An MRI scan confirmed the cancer had gone and, after five years of check-ups, in January 2014 I was given the all clear.
I still have ongoing health issues including problems with my bowel caused by the radiotherapy. If I’d gone for a smear sooner, perhaps some of it might have been avoided.
I can’t turn back the clock, but I can encourage other women to attend theirs.
It makes me angry to hear attendance is lower than ever. It’s five minutes of discomfort, but that’s nothing compared to 7 treatment for cancer.”
‘We have to get out it’s nothing to be feared’
COFFEE shop owner Claire Thresher, a mum of two from Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucs, was five years overdue when she finally booked her smear.
She says: “I saw Jade on the telly talking about her symptoms and I thought, “That’s me”. I was losing blood clots and I had pain in my stomach. I was tired all the time.
Jade was saying, “Just book it”. I read her interview in The Sun, too, talking about her symptoms, and I was very worried.
My smear was five years overdue. I just kept putting it off. I’m a bit uncomfortable when it comes to my bits anyway and then I’d see another story about Jade and think, “Oh my God”. Now I know she saved my life.
Claire believes Jade’s openness about cervical cancer saved her life[/caption]
When she died in March 2009, I went to the doctors and booked an appointment, which I had in the June of that year.
When I had the test, instantly the doctor looked worried. She said something wasn’t right and that they’d get the test off straight away. Within three days, I had the results back.
I had cancerous cells on my cervix. I had what is called a loop procedure, which involves the doctor using a wire loop to remove the abnormal cells.
I was told they removed a pea-sized lump from my cervix and that I was about three weeks away from it becoming more serious.
Claire says: “We have to get the word out that it’s nothing to be feared”[/caption]
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I go for smears regularly now to make sure the cancer hasn’t returned. It’s certainly not something I put off any more.
It’s scary to think about how things might have turned out. The test was certainly not as bad as I worried it might be. It was over in a matter of seconds.
Now, whenever I see anything about smear tests on social media I try to share it. I do understand why women don’t go. Everyone works so hard, we’re all busy and we don’t have the time. But we really do need to make it a priority.
I’ll shout it from the rooftops now if I can encourage anyone else to go and I’ll drag my daughter Jasmine-Leigh along when she is old enough. We have to get the word out that it’s nothing to be feared.”
Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain starts tonight at 9pm on Channel 4.
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