A mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer after waiting 10 years for a smear and ignoring appointment letters.
Kim Montgomery, 31, from Dunfermline, Fife, had her first screening when she was 21, the age women in Scotland were invited to change the law in 2016.
She said being pregnant with her four children “back to back” for three years helped postpone a new test.
But after nine months of abnormal bleeding, Montgomery finally decided that she should have a smear and said she “had a feeling” that she had cancer.
A smear does not detect cancer. Instead, it looks for abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix that can develop into cancer.
Doctors found abnormal cells and later Mrs. Montgomery received the devastating news about cervical cancer on February 5 after a biopsy. She is still waiting for results about her prognosis.
The former hairdresser said that if she hadn’t ignored the reminder letters about her smear for so long, she wouldn’t fight cancer today.
Kim Montgomery, 31, from Dunfermline, Fife, warns other women to have their smear tested after ten years of preventing her from getting cervical cancer and being diagnosed with cervical cancer
Mrs. Montgomery said that being pregnant with her four children “back to back” contributed to postponing a new test for three years. She is the mother of Macaulay, three, Kayla, five, Lacey, six and Dylan, 11, worried about telling her children that she is dying
Mrs. Montgomery said, “I didn’t think I’d ever get cancer – I’m only 31.
“I got a lot of memories about going, but I just ignored them.
‘I have been pregnant with my four children for three years and you cannot smear if you are pregnant.
“That was a big factor in why I didn’t get one that long, but I didn’t realize how important it was.”
Mrs Montgomery is now urging other women to go to screenings, even if they find it embarrassing.
The rapid test involves gently inserting a plastic instrument, called a speculum, into the vagina before a nurse uses a soft brush to remove cells from the cervix.
The NHS cervical screening program invites women between 25 and 64 for cervical screening. The test picks up changes that can develop into cervical cancer if not treated, thereby preventing cancer.
Until 2016, women in Scotland were asked to attend a smear every three years when they reached the age of 20. This changed to 25.
Recalling her first smear at the age of 21, Mrs. Montgomery said, “I remember it wasn’t fun, so I wasn’t in a hurry to go back.”
Years passed until Mrs. Montgomery began to notice that she was bleeding from her vagina – a clear sign of cervical cancer. It led her to finally do a smear.
Vaginal bleeding is very common and can have a wide range of causes, so it is not necessarily a sign of cervical cancer. But Mrs. Montgomery said she had a sinister feeling.
She said: ‘I have had abnormal bleeding for more than nine months and I am still bleeding.
“I was worried about it, but I kept postponing it until I thought enough was enough to get it done.
After nine months of bleeding abnormally, Montgomery finally decided that she should have a smear and said she “had a feeling” that she had cancer
WHAT IS CERVICAL CANCER?
Cervical cancer affects the mucous membrane of the lower part of the uterus.
The most common symptom is unusual bleeding, such as between periods, during sex, or after menopause, but other symptoms may include:
- Pain during sex
- Vaginal discharge that smells
- Pain in the pelvis
Causes can be:
- Age – more than half of the patients are younger than 45 years
- HPV infection – which affects most people at some point in their lives
- Smoking – responsible for 21 percent of cases
- Birth control pill – linked to 10 percent of cases
- Having children
- Family history of cervical cancer or other types of cancer, such as vagina
Source: Cancer Research UK
‘I had the smear on December 20 and then I received a letter in the new year stating that I had abnormal cells.
‘I immediately thought it was cancer, I just had a feeling, but it was only real when the doctors told me and I gave up.
“You automatically think you’re going to die.”
One in 20 women with smears shows abnormal changes in the cells of their cervix. In some cases, these must be removed or they can become cancerous.
Mrs. Montgomery had further investigation into the abnormal cells on her cervix, including a biopsy.
This confirmed that she had cervical cancer. She became one of the approximately 3,200 women in the UK who was diagnosed with the disease every year.
An estimated 852 women die from the disease each year, according to Cancer Research UK.
In the US, 13,800 new cases of invasive cervical cancer are diagnosed each year and about 4,290 women die.
Mrs. Montgomery said, “I was told that the cancer is grade two, but I don’t know what stage it is or that it has spread.”
Mrs. Montgomery will not know if the cancer has spread until the results of an MRI return. The assessment is a measure of how much the cancer cells look like normal cells – that of Mrs. Montgomery is two of the three.
She said doctors fear she needs a hysterectomy – removal of her reproductive organs – and chemotherapy.
Mrs. Montgomery, Macaulay’s mother, three, Kayla, five, Lacey, six, and Dylan, 11, is worried about telling her children that she will die if doctors make her a terminal diagnosis.
She said, “The doctors won’t be able to tell me how long I’ve had it, but if I had just done a test, they would have contracted it before it became cancer.
“I didn’t want to tell my children until I found out if it’s terminal.”
“They know I’m not doing well and I told my eldest who immediately said” are you dying? “
“The doctors said they think I need chemo and a hysterectomy. It’s really daunting and I wanted to have more children, but I’m just lucky to have four. “
Mrs. Montgomery, who worked as a hair extension technician, said, “Since I announced that I have cancer on Facebook, 19 women have said it has encouraged them to have their smear done.
‘I want to make people aware of the importance of people doing their smear.
“I hope I can save more lives by sharing my story.”
Mrs. Montgomery and her heartbroken partner, Dane Paten, 30, are now trying to raise money for ‘alternative treatment’.
You can donate here.
WHAT IS A SMEAR TEST?
A smear detects abnormal cells on the cervix, the entrance of the uterus from the vagina.
The removal of these cells can prevent cervical cancer.
Most test results clearly come back, but one in 20 women shows abnormal changes in the cells of their cervix.
In some cases, these must be removed or they can become cancerous.
Regular screening means that abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix can be identified at an early stage and, if necessary, treated to stop the development of cancer (stock image)
Cervical cancer usually affects sexually active women between 30 and 45 years.
In the UK, the NHS Cervical Screening Program invites women from 25 to 49 every three years for a smear, those from 50 to 64 every five years, and women over 65 if they have not been screened since 50 or before have been abnormal Results.
Women must be registered with a general practitioner to be invited to a test.
In the US, tests start when women turn 21 and they run every three years until they turn 65.
Changes in cervical cells are often caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be transmitted during sex.
In January 2018, women shared selfies with smeared lipstick on social media to raise awareness of the importance of cervical cancer testing in a campaign launched by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.
Celebrities including model and socialite Tamara Ecclestone, formerly I’m A Celebrity! star Rebekah Vardy and former Emmerdale actress Gaynor Faye participated in supporting the # SmearForSmear campaign.
Socialite Tamara Ecclestone supported the # SmearForSmear campaign from Jo’s Trust