A CHANCE sighting of an old friend in the pages of the Examiner helped Sarah Powis beat cancer in time for her wedding day.
The New Mill woman was inspired to go for a cervical smear after reading about Joanna Tatlock.
Joanna, a Golcar mum – who survived cervical cancer – is pushing health chiefs to lower the age at which women are tested.
Yesterday, Sarah, 26, said: “Joanna and I used to work together when we were about 15, but I hadn’t seen her for quite a while. When I saw the piece about her in the Examiner it made me think I should probably get a smear test.
“I’m getting married in November so I could have put off the test thinking I had too much to do.”
After reading the piece in the Examiner in June, Sarah went to Holme Valley Memorial Hospital in Holmfirth for a smear test.
On July 2 came the news she had been dreading.
Sarah, who lives on Old Mill Lane, said: “All the cliches are true. I heard the words ‘we’ve found cancer in your sample’ and I thought that was it. I was devastated, I thought I was going to die.
“I had exactly the same type of cancer as Joanna and it was at the same stage.”
On August 18 Sarah had 16 lymph nodes and part of her cervix removed at St James’ Hospital in Leeds. But she faced an agonising two-week wait to see if the surgery had been successful. On September 2, Sarah’s oncologist gave her the all-clear.
She said: “I still need check-ups every three months but I feel like I can get on with my life now.”
Sarah and her fiance Daniel Smith, 32, are busy preparing for their wedding at Helme Church in Meltham on November 28.
Sarah said: “It was very difficult for Daniel. He tried to support me as best he could. We didn’t know if we would have to postpone the wedding.
“If the surgery hadn’t worked I would have had to go through chemotherapy which would have left me infertile.”
Like Joanna, Sarah wants the Government to lower the age at which women are invited for smear tests. In England it is 25 – but women in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are invited for tests at 20.
Sarah, who works as a social researcher for Kirklees Council, said: “If I had got a smear test earlier I wouldn’t have had to go through this.
“I hope that, if women suspect they have symptoms, they get down to their GP and demand a smear – it could save their lives.
“I also want to make sure girls get the vaccinations they need.”