“There are very few cancers that are preventable, but cervical cancer is”
An event will take place next week in memory of local woman, Sorcha Glenn and to mark Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.
Sorcha was just 23-years-old when she passed away in 2014 following a year long battle with cervical cancer.
In the years since her death, Team Sorcha and the Pink Ladies have held a coffee morning to highlight the importance of cervical screening.
Recent figures shows uptake for the routine test has fallen 0.6 percent.
Christina Glenn, Sorcha’s mum, said it was fear putting women off going for their smear.
“Many women think a smear is to find cancer, but it is a test to prevent cancer. That is the message we need to get through to people. Cervical cancer is 99.8 per cent preventable.”
Sorcha’s sister, Orlagh Robson, said that embarrassment is also putting women off going for their routine smear test.
“No one saying it is the most pleasant experience, but you are going in to see a nurse who has probably done 15 tests that day or 50 that week. Sorcha always used to say if you can go for a bikini wax you can go for a smear test.
“There are very few cancers that are preventable, but cervical cancer is. Places like Australia have almost eradicated it completely. We don’t need to have it in our society if we are getting screened and preventing it.”
Sorcha wasn’t eligible for a routine smear prior to her diagnosis as she was under 25 and Team Sorcha have been campaigning for smear on demand.
Team Sorcha attended an event in Westminster last year where they received confirmation that smear testing on demand is going to be looked at by the health minister.
“It is a recommendation that dictates women under 25 are not eligible for cervical screening.
It’s the same kind of recommendation that you should eat five fruit and vegetables a day, yet these recommendations are taking women’s lives,” Christina said.
Michelle McLaren, from Pink Ladies, warned women about ignoring reminder letters for the routine test.
“If women don’t avail of the reminder and book their test, they may not get another one within three years and fall through the net. Go and book your test - it is two minutes of your life, which might be uncomfortable for some women and not for others.”
She said that the event, which will take place next week, will be something different and will highlight how important the screening programme is.
“First and foremost, it is to remember Sorcha and have a bit of craic. There will be food, mocktails and complementary therapies on the night.
“There will also be locally products which contain zero chemicals and a smear nurse will be there on the night to explain the screening process and break down barriers.”
The event will take place on Thursday, January 24 at Bishop Street Community Centre between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.