More than 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK each year, and nearly 1,000 lose their lives to the fatal disease – yet it is 99.8% preventable with regular screening.
The death of Big Brother star Jade Goody on 27 of 2009 led to an outbreak of women with defamation tests. But now the attendance at the clinics is at least 20 years.
As the Cervical Cancer Prevention Week begins on Monday, three women tell their story – and explain why early screening can save their lives.
How could I look my children in the eye if I refused a test?
When Laura Flaherty received the letter saying her defamation test was due, she felt that familiar fear.
"I was a mother of two with a full-time job and it was the race for Christmas," she recalls. "I thought, 'I do not have time for this,' and I kept postponing. '
After several reminders, Laura finally took a test and, at age 29, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in June 2016.
She recalls: "When the doctor said the words, I broke completely.
"I begged him to save me. I said, "I have two small children at home, they will not remember me if I get lost." I was totally devastated.
Already Mom to Violet, now four, and Alex, eight, Laura and her partner Ryan made the difficult decision to have a hysterectomy.
"I was convinced I was going to die in the OR," says Laura. "I wrote letters to the children, to say goodbye."
Fortunately, she survived and was totally cleaned in August 2016. Now she campaigns to raise awareness about cancer.
Laura, a Leigh aquarium operator, Gtr Manchester, adds, "I watched Jade Goody at Big Brother and I loved her. What happened to her was tragic and preventable.
"If I continued to delay my blemish, my cancer would have killed me-how could I have looked my children in the eye and told them that I was dying?"
I postponed the trip to the document but it is worth checking
Hayley, 41 years old
It was the death of Jade Goody that convinced the mother of three Hayley Prince to take the smear test.
She says, "My periods were very heavy and I had painful cramps, but I was postponing the test. I always liked Jade and when she died, she took me to meet me.
Hayley – a focused care practitioner – was diagnosed with cervical cancer in May 2009, two months after Jade's death.
Terrified Hayley, Nathan's mother, 21, Joe, 20, and Ben, 15, says, "Jade died, so I thought I was going to die. It scared the lights of life out of me. I went to pieces.
Hayley had a hysterectomy in July 2009, then six weeks of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, when cancer spread to her lymph nodes.
"It was awful," she says. "After the hysterectomy, I did not feel like a woman anymore. Then chemotherapy knocked me over.
After a difficult recovery, Hayley from Stockport, Gtr Manchester, got it all in January 2015.
She recalls: "I had a party to celebrate with 250 friends and family all delighted that I had won the cancer. Living with a cancer diagnosis seems like a life sentence.
"With cervical cancer, it really is preventable. It is so important that the examination be done in time. "
I've come through tears and trauma and you can too.
Sophie, 28 years old
Young, active, fit, happy and committed to getting married, the last thing on Sophie Wheeldon's head was cancer of the cervix – until she was diagnosed in November 2016 at the age of 26.
"It was a total shock," says the M & S manager. "As soon as you hear the word cancer, you feel like your life is over. I remember thinking, "Surely this can not be right. I'm 26 years old, I'm too young to get sick."
Sophie, of Buxton, Derbys, had no symptoms and was diagnosed after the routine examination.
Once the devastating news had sunk, she faced the painful decision to have a hysterectomy – and end her dream of having children – or to choose a trachectomy, which leaves the uterus and ovaries intact.
"My wonderful partner Alex and I have always wanted to have children, so the idea of the end of the dream killed me," says Sophie. She chose to do the trachectomy.
Her recovery was slow and difficult and she remembers the days when she "got in the shower and cried."
But two years later, Sophie is free of cancer. She married IT specialist Alex last June and the two are now trying to get pregnant.
She adds, "I'm happy, healthy and planning my future – my smear test saved my life. It can save yours as well.
Most types of cervical cancer are caused by high-risk HPV strains.
Watching your scheduled smear test means that doctors can detect any cellular changes early and prevent the formation of cancer.
Not all women diagnosed with cervical cancer have symptoms.
But look for unusual bleeding during or after sex or between periods, pain during sex and pelvic pain, bleeding after menopause and changes in vaginal discharge.
For more information, visit the Jo & # 39; s Cervical Cancer Trust at jostrust.org.uk or call the help line on 0808 802 8000.