A MOTHER diagnosed with cervical cancer after giving birth is calling on the government to lower the age women are offered smear tests.
Joanna Tatlock was 25 when she received a letter through the post inviting her for a test.
But being seven months pregnant, she put the letter to one side and eventually it was thrown away.
It was only after a reminder, sent three months after she gave birth to Jacob, that she finally had a smear test and was told on Christmas Eve 2007 that she had high levels of pre-cancerous cervix cells.
By January she was diagnosed with cervical cancer and faced a hysterectomy.
Now the Golcar mother has been given the all-clear and is campaigning for the age in which women are invited for a smear to be reduced to 20 – the current age in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – instead of 25 in England.
And she said the tragedy of Big Brother star Jade Goody (pictured), who is dying of cervical cancer, is highlighting the need for smear tests at an early age.
Joanna, now 27, said: “It is absolutely awful what Jade is going through.
“But she has been amazing in bringing it to the forefront of people’s minds.
“I was only 25 and if I had been offered a smear test from the age of 20 I feel the disease would have stayed at the pre-cancerous stage and could have been treated less invasively.”
Joanna, an admin officer at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, is married to Daniel, owner and head chef of the Lemon Tree Trattoria in Honley.
She described the shock of being told she had cancer.
“It was a shock to the system but I got through it.
“It’s only now talking about it that I realise what a massive thing I went through.
“My emotions were on hold but now I am doing everything I can to raise awareness of the disease.”
Joanna became involved with a charity called Jo’s Trust – dedicated to supporting women and their families who are dealing with cervical cancer.
On Wednesday Joanna will join women at Parliament Square to lobby the government as they hand in a petition with more than 20,000 signatures to Downing Street.
And it looks as if they could have some success, as last Friday health minister Ann Keen said that a panel of experts would meet to debate lowering the age to below 25.
Mrs Keen said: “Screening saves around 4,500 lives every year and we want to ensure that our programme remains in the best interests of young women.”