Park Gate mum-to-be urges women to get smear tests after cervical cancer scare
AN EXPECTANT mother is urging women to get a smear test after she had to undergo two treatments for pre-cancerous cells.
Claire Birks from Park Gate was left ‘terrified’ after she received a letter in January last year telling her that she had ‘severe to moderate’ changes in her cervix indicating pre-cancerous cells.
The 32-year-old said: ‘Getting that letter was terrifying. I had a complete meltdown – and went searching on Google which is the worst thing to do.’
After treatment to remove the cells, she was told at her six-month follow-up that the cells were HPV – human papillomavirus – positive and she had to undergo another treatment.
Doctors told her that having two treatments could mean there would be a higher chance of a miscarriage or the baby being born prematurely if she were to get pregnant.
Claire and her husband Duncan got married in May last year and the pair were looking to start a family soon after but were left worried about what might happen.
After Claire’s second treatment in August 2019, she recovered before becoming pregnant in the autumn. The couple are now expecting a baby girl in August.
The furloughed personal assistant said: ‘I think in the first trimester you are worried anyway but knowing there was a extra risk just meant I had a black cloud above me.
‘But the staff at Queen Alexandra Hospital were amazing and I was checked really regularly and the silver lining is that I got to see my baby more often on ultrasound than you usually would.’
After 26 weeks Claire was discharged and now has her feet up ready for the arrival of her daughter.
It has recently been cervical cancer screening awareness week and latest figures show in Portsmouth only 65 per cent of eligible women, aged between 25 and 49, got a smear test between October and December last year.
Of women aged between 50 and 64, 72.9 per cent had a smear test. The national NHS target is 80 per cent.
Claire is now encouraging women to get their tests done.
She added: ‘I always thought of it as a box-ticking exercise and then you don’t think about it for the next three years but if I hadn’t have gone then I would be in a very different place right now.
‘It is one to two minutes of discomfort by a nurse who has seen it all before and it could save your life.’