Sinn Féin Councillor Caoimhe McKnight has spoken candidly of enduring a personal cancer scare several years ago in a bid to get more women to take potentially life-saving smear tests.
Colr. McKnight described the anxiety she felt when abnormal cells were detected during a cervical screening appointment that, like many, she had initially procrastinated over.
“I can speak from experience when I say that a smear test could literally save your life. When living in Scotland at the age of 21 I received the notification of my eligibility and was advised to avail of it.
“But like many young women I put it off for a couple of months before finally going for the test. When I tell you how grateful I am that I made the decision to have the test it is no exaggeration.
“It was lucky, yes lucky, that I made the decision to have the test as they found abnormal cells. I dread to think what I may have been told if I had to wait until the age of 25 before being tested.
“After treatment and a few yearly smears everything is now fine and I am now in the normal three year test cycle.
“So from personal experience I can’t encourage women strongly enough to go get checked out. I can assure you the peace of mind is worth any embarrassment in having this potentially life-saving procedure.”
Speaking during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, Colr. McKnight said not enough women are getting screened.
“One in four women aged 25-64 don’t get tested and this falls to 1 in 3 for 25-29 year-olds.
“Smear tests prevent up to 75 per cent of cervical cancers – the most common form of cancer in women under 35 - so it is concerning that so many women don’t get tested.
“It is therefore extremely important that all eligible women are pro-active in getting appointments for their smear when invited to do so. It can save your life,” she said.