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Why these women are dedicated to campaigning for change in smear test legislation

Their campaigns are different but ultimately have the same goal

Cervical cancer screening tests are something I have written about on this page many a time.

In fact, I am sure I bore readers of this topic, the amount of times I have harped on about the issue.

To briefly recap, in 2014 I featured the story of Chester girl Lucy Jones (née Rushton) who was supporting the Team Sorcha cause, in the name of Sorcha Glenn, a 23-year-old woman from Derry who died after consistently being refused a smear test, despite a family history of cervical cancer.

Lucy felt fiercely compelled to try and get the law changed so any woman has the right have to demand a smear test even if they are not due for one (the current age limit is 25) after experiencing cervical cancer symptoms but being repeatedly told she could not have a smear test because she was not due one.

Related : A woman's right to choose

The symptoms persisted and she paid for a private test, which revealed she did have cervical cancer – and since then Lucy has been campaigning for the law to allow ‘smear on demand’ tests – something that Chester MP Chris Matheson has lent his support to.

Lucy, unfortunately, is not the only woman who is battling to change smear test legislation after a life-threatening experience.

Victoria Cristofis, from Worksop, recently made headlines after undergoing a full hysterectomy after missed smear tests left her with cervical cancer at the age of just 28.

Victoria, a mum-of-three, has now dedicated her life to highlighting the importance of cervical screening tests.

'Nothing can prepare you for that'

“Nothing can prepare you for a cancer diagnosis,” she said. “All I could think about was the fact I might not see my children grow up. It has been a difficult journey, but I got through it.

“My campaign has become my passion. Being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease and having to have a hysterectomy were obviously not pleasant, but my ordeal has made me determined to save others by getting my story out there to the public.

“Cervical cancer is not a death sentence – you can fight it, as I have shown. But it can also be avoided in the first place with a five minute screening.

“It’s wrong that this is only available to women over 25. I won’t stop until the age is lowered,” she added.

Although Lucy and Victoria’s campaigns are different – Lucy’s is for smear on demand and Victoria’s is for lowering the smear test age limit, they still have the same goal that anyone should be allowed a smear test if they need one – regardless of age or when they are due for one.

Different campaigns - same goal

The Smear On Demand campaign highlighted that the most common age for women to be diagnosed with early stage cervical cancer is 25-30.

But Lucy wants to know, if the government state that smear tests are a preventative measure, why start preventing something at 25 when this is the most common age for already having the disease.

“It makes no sense to me,” she says. “Why is it harmful to screen women who are 24 and not harmful for women who are 25?

“I personally feel that this is an excuse that the government hide behind and use in order to not have address the fact that screening in most cases is more beneficial than it is harmful.

“I do not understand how screening someone younger would be more ‘harmful’ than screening someone over 25 years old – it doesn’t make sense. You either need treatment or you don’t – it doesn’t matter how old you are.

“Cancer doesn’t discriminate against age, so neither should the screen process – I cannot see this logic at all,” she added.

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