25-year-old Emma Fisk passed away from cervical cancer less than six months after getting married.
Emma was only 23 when she suffered symptoms of cancer and asked for a smear test, but doctors refused as she was ‘too young for a smear test’. The NHS offers screening to women aged 25 and above.
Emma’s mother Adele Willis is supporting Fabulous Daily’s #CheersForSmears campaign that aims to raise awareness of the importance of cervical screening.
“Women should go for smear tests, no matter what. If Emma had been granted one, perhaps her cancer would have been picked up earlier and maybe she’d be here today,” she said.
“We don’t know what would have happened but we do know smear tests save around 5,000 lives a year. Not enough women go for them. It’s a five-minute test but could save your life.
“If you are under 25 and have symptoms, see a GP and demand one. Don’t take no for an answer.”
She added: “It hurts to know Emma’s disease might have been prevented.”
TV personality Jade Goody’s death from cervical cancer prompted almost 500,000 more women than usual to take a smear test. She was only 27 when she passed away and this month marks her tenth death anniversary.
However, the number of women taking smear tests is decreasing. One in three women does not consider it even though 75 percent of the cases could be prevented by a 5-minute test.
Emma visited her GP many times, with bowel problems, discomfort and water infections. Her mother, Adele, said: “She knew her own body and more than once requested a smear, but they said no.
“Then in 2013 she was diagnosed with colitis. She took it all in her stride and was glad to have an explanation of why she was feeling unwell.
“It was during a review with her gastroenterologist that Emma mentioned abnormal bleeding. He wrote to her GP suggesting a smear — and that came back showing abnormal cells.
“A colposcopy (examination of the cervix, vagina and vulva) was arranged at St James Hospital in Leeds in May 2014 but when Emma went to the appointment the procedure had to be abandoned, as she was losing so much blood and her cervix was crumbling away.”
Adele added: “She rang me after leaving the hospital, as the doctor had told her it might be cancer. She was in tears, and kept saying, ‘Mum, I’m only 24’.”
Emma was diagnosed with Stage 2b neuroendocrine carcinoma, a rare type of cervical cancer. She had radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and other treatments.
“Emma was so brave. It was heartbreaking to see her lose her hair. She cut it short at first, then the rest fell out,” Adele expressed.
“Emma had a scan in December 2014 and we were told the cancer had spread and there was nothing they could do. The news brought the whole family to their knees. We were devastated.”
Emma and her partner tied the knot in January 2015 but her health quickly deteriorated. She died in June 2015.
“She passed away as I held her hand. Losing Emma has left a void and pain I cannot explain.
“She was inspiring, funny, loving, caring, generous and had a way of brightening up any situation and turning it into laughter.”
Adele wants to help raise awareness of the importance of cervical screening and also the need for women under-25s to take them.
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