Monday 23 October 2017

'My first smear test ended up saving my life', reveals cervical cancer survivor

Katie O'Brien wants others to be tested
Katie O'Brien wants others to be tested

Clodagh Sheehy

A YOUNG woman who was told she had cervical cancer after her first routine smear test has spoken of her shock at the diagnosis and urged other women her age to avail of free tests.

Katie O’Brien (26), who works as a hairdresser with the David Marshall Salon in Dublin said: “I had no symptoms of anything. It was just a routine check-up. 

“I was just all over the place. I don’t think I really believed it. There’s no cancer history in my family.”

She continued: “It’s been quite difficult to think. I’m so young to have cervical cancer, but now I just want to get the message out there to other people my age and to get them to avail of the free smear tests.”

Katie, who lives in Chapelizod, explained that two weeks after the test last September she got a call from her doctor to say there were abnormal cells.

She said: “I had heard plenty of people have abnormal cells so wasn’t too worried.”

After a biopsy of the cervix at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street she went on holiday with her boyfriend.

On November 14, however, she got a call in London to say she had a tumour. 

“They were amazing, I have to say. They made sure there was someone with me before they told me and the only reason they told me over the phone was because I was away.”

Back in Dublin Katie had an MRI scan to assess the size of the tumour to see if she would need a hysterectomy.

“I was waiting about a week for the results which was horrible. I didn’t know if I would be able to have kids.”

Luckily the cancer had not spread and Katie was taken in for an operation under full anaesthetic which removed all of the tumour and any pre-cancerous cells.

“They managed to completely remove it.

“At the moment I am cancer free and bad as all this has been, it could have been 100pc worse,” she said.

Katie still faces another operation next month where they will remove the lymph nodes in her groin as a precaution in case the cancer has spread there.

Her treatment will also affect her in the future if she has a baby because she will only be able to carry the baby for seven to eight months and then have to have a C-section.

Her goal at the moment is to spread awareness. 

“I don’t want to frighten anyone, obviously, but it’s very important to have these tests in case the cancer is there and before it spreads.”

Katie added: “I feel relieved, but I still have to have the next operation so I’m looking forward to getting through this and moving on with my life.”

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