Monday, 26 May 2014

True Life Story: Too Young for a Smear Test, Now I'm Dying

Cervical screening in England and Wales only starts when you're 25. It's because of this NHS rule that Michelle Frost is dying of cancer, aged just 27.

Now she's using the time she has left to spread the message that the age should be lowered to help save other young women's lives.

Michelle was 21 when she started suffering pain during sexual intercourse and bleeding afterwards. She was told an implant she'd had to stop her periods might be the cause. She had it removed but her symptoms persisted.

When she was 23 a 29-year-old friend with similar symptoms went to the doctor and was immediately given a smear test. When the results came back as pre-cancerous Michelle demanded she be tested. But her request was refused.

'They said I needed to be 25,' she recalls. 'But I was adamant they should check me, so they inspected my cervix and agreed it wasn't normal. But they still insisted they couldn't do a smear test.'

In February last year Michelle moved from Stafford to New Zealand where she met a new partner. Once again sex was extremely painful and she was also suffering back pain and kidney infections.

She saw a doctor over there who finally offered her a smear test and she was diagnosed with cancer.

Michelle had chemo and radiotherapy to try and shrink the tumour on her cervix and stop it spreading to her lymphatic system but unfortunately last Christmas she was told her cancer was terminal.

She continued to have chemotherapy in an attempt to prolong her life. Appearing on This Morning recently she took her wig off live on TV. 'I wanted to show people how real this is,' Michelle says. 

Earlier this month she was given the devastating news that her treatment was being stopped. Her cancer is too aggressive to be controlled.

'There was nothing else they could do,' she explains. 'I've been given six to eight months to live.'

Michelle says she has a bucket list of things she would like to do before she dies. Top of that is campaigning for awareness of the disease.

'If I'd had a smear at 23 I would not be in this situation. It would've saved my life, or prolonged it. But I'm not angry. I know I'm going to die.

'All I have left now is enjoying life and spreading awareness to help young women go and get tested.'
I don’t even know if we have a policy regarding the age for having a smear test in Nigeria, but I know that this disease is a killer of young women. I still remember Jane Goody, the Big Brother UK contestant who died from cervical cancer. So the message to young ladies is go out and get tested.

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