Monday 22 October 2018

'I had a phobia about smear tests, but when I finally went for one it saved my life' - mother

Sharon McGeough, from Dundalk, who survived after being diagnosed with cervical cancer. Photo: Damien Eagers
Sharon McGeough, from Dundalk, who survived after being diagnosed with cervical cancer. Photo: Damien Eagers
Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

Sharon McGeough had a "phobia of smear tests" all her life. Every time she got a letter from CervicalCheck, she stuffed it in a drawer and forgot about it.

But the Dundalk woman has her sister Sinead to thank for forcing her to finally overcome her fears and get tested - and just possibly for saving her life.

"I have had a phobia of smear tests all my life and had never gone for one.

"When I was 39, I started bleeding a bit. My sister Sinead said, 'if you don't go, I'll kill you'. She had had abnormal results so she knew how important it was to get tested," explained Sharon.

September 12 last year was "D-Day", as Sharon calls it, and she finally went for her first smear test. It found abnormalities in the cervix and just a few weeks later, the mother-of-three was told she had stage-2 cervical cancer.

"I had chemotherapy and radiotherapy, it was awful," said Sharon.

However, last Friday, as the country was transfixed with the scandal of Limerick woman Vicky Phelan's delayed cancer diagnosis, Sharon got the news she had been waiting for.

"Last Friday, I got the all-clear. It's like getting a new lease on life."

The news came as a huge relief to her husband Conor, and children David (19), Liam (15) and Sophie (5).

Sharon said she had been "torturing" her colleagues in Tesco to make sure they go for their smear tests.

"I was thinking this week about Vicky Phelan and it's very, very sad for her," she said. "CervicalCheck is getting such a bad rap but it has saved my life. I'm not talking down what these women are going through. But the treatment I got was amazing.

"Testing worked for me...and I could never thank Sinead enough for making me go and get that test."

Anyone with concerns can call the Irish Cancer Society's Freephone Cancer Nurseline on 1800 200 700 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)

Irish Independent

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