Sunday 15 September 2019

Survivor tells women to demand cancer test after it saved her life

Leanne Meyler
Leanne Meyler

Anna Hayes

A woman who was diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 23 has urged women not to shy away from smear testing in the wake of the ongoing CervicalCheck scandal, saying that getting checked saved her life.

Leanne Meyler (26), from Wexford town, was diagnosed with cancer in October 2014 but only after insisting her doctor send her to the hospital, when various antibiotics did not help to clear cramps.

At 23, she was not old enough to avail of the free CervicalCheck smear test.

When diagnosed, her cancer was at the advanced Stage 3B stage and she believes if she hadn't insisted on further examination she would have died.

"Because I'd never had a smear test done, there was no way of knowing how long I'd had it," she said. "I first went to the doctor in August with cramps and pain but I could have had it for any length of time before I started showing symptoms. Even at that, the symptoms are the same as other women's problems."

Leanne said she had asked in hospital if she might have cancer and was told she was "too young": "You never expect to be told, at the age of 23, that you have cancer".

For Leanne, one of the biggest blows was being told that she would never have children.

"I'll never get my head around that part. Every day, that comes into my head. When you look at your friends having kids, you do feel like you've been left behind," she said.

When Leanne finished her treatment in early 2015, she used social media to encourage women to book their smear tests and stand their ground if they felt something was wrong.

Leanne attends appointments every six months for regular testing and hopes the current scandal will not result in women turning away from screening.

"Women have died because of this. I can't even imagine what those families are going through and the anger that they must feel.

"When I was told I had cervical cancer I was petrified. To be told that everything is fine and then to find out later that, actually, it's not fine and that your previous test showed that, must make these women feel so angry and betrayed," she said.

Irish Independent

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