TWO cervical cancer survivors are positive the age of screening will be lowered after taking part in a London rally.
Golcar mother Joanna Tatlock was joined by Hipperholme mother Elaine Davies and around 100 women in Parliament Square on Wednesday to campaign for the age of smear testing to be lowered.
Joanna fought and beat cervical cancer when she was 25, while Elaine was 36 when she was diagnosed and underwent radical surgery which she credits with keeping her alive today.
Both women are now hopeful that the health minister Ann Keen will now consider lowering the age screening is made available to women.
Joanna, 27, an administrator at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, said: “The atmosphere at the rally was amazing, very joyous because we were all positive something good would come of it.
“There was a sad side to it when we released balloons in Parliament Square for a few women who had died or have the cancer but don’t have long left – that was poignant.
“But we made sure it was a happy occasion and all left feeling so positive.”
Elaine, 43, has undergone a hysterectomy and radical pelvic exenteration to clear the cancer.
The mother-of-two boys said: “It was absolutely horrendous but it was crucial and almost six years later I’m alive and kicking.
“I truly believe that when a woman becomes sexually active they should be allowed a smear test.
“Jade Goody was 25 when she started with the symptoms.
“Her experience is tragic and so very sad but she has helped to highlight this awful situation and helped to make it something that is being discussed more and more.”
Many of the women had a tattoo at the rally – Joanna chose three stars in teal to represent her, her husband Daniel and baby son Jacob.
While they helped to hand in a petition with more than 15,000 signatures calling for the age to be lowered.
Joanna, who was diagnosed with cancer months after giving birth, added: “I think now there will have to be a lot of work going on behind the scenes with medical research taking place.
“The hope is that medical professionals will come forward and talk about their experience of treating younger women and that women too will share their experiences.
“Hopefully then we’ll get a good result.”
In 2003 the age cervical cancer screening is made available was increased from 20 to 25.
In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland it remains at 20.
The two women are involved with Jo’s Trust – a charity dedicated to supporting women and their families dealing with cervical cancer.
On Wednesday Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the Government would consider all the available medical evidence before deciding whether to extend smear tests for women under 25 in England.
He said during Prime Minister’s Question Time: “Any family that is suffering because of cervical cancer, indeed any form of cancer, has all our sympathies and we want to do everything we can to help.”
Government ministers will decided over the next few months whether to lower the age screening is available.
Last year 4,337,720 women in England were invited for cervical screening but only 3,374,826 were screened – a 78% coverage.