“I know of 10 of my friends who hadn’t had their smear and it’s only because of what happened to me that they’ve since booked their tests.”
This week marks Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.
Mother of two Rachel Mallon made a habit of ensuring that she was up to date with her cervical screening tests. The 34-year-old’s results had always been normal until her smear test in April 2021. The results showed HPV and abnormal cells and she was referred for a colposcopy and a biopsy, and that June she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
“I was very calm when they told me, and then I wanted it know if it had spread, but my doctor didn’t know at that point,” recalls Rachel, who lives in Balbriggan. “I was referred to the Mater hospital then and in early July, I had MRIs, PET-cs scans and blood tests. On July 8, I got a call to say the cancer was contained to the cervix and I was to be brought in for a full hysterectomy. I was relieved. I just kept thinking how much worse it could have been. I kept thinking, I’m lucky here, I caught it early.”
It’s been a huge rollercoaster but I am so glad to be here and have the outcome I did. Smear tests are so important
Rachel didn’t require further treatment and she returned to work a few months after her surgery in November 2021. “I was lucky in that I didn’t need any radiation or chemotherapy, and they were able to treat the cancer with surgery alone,” says Rachel, who now attends check-ups in the Mater Hospital every three months.
“I am trying to adjust to life as normal before all this happened. I have good days where I feel like my old self and other days when I'm just exhausted for no reason. It’s been a huge rollercoaster but I am so glad to be here and have the outcome I did. Smear tests are so important,” she says. “I know of 10 of my friends who hadn’t had their smear and it’s only because of what happened to me that they’ve since booked their tests.”
Rachel’s message to others is to make sure to book a cervical screening test when it’s due or if you’ve missed your last test. “I know smear tests are not the most comfortable to have but in this situation, they saved my life,” she says.
Contact the Irish Cancer Society Support Line
If you have worries or concerns about cancer, you can speak confidentially to an Irish Cancer Society Cancer Nurse through the Freephone Support Line on 1800 200 700.
Monday to Friday, 9.00am - 5.00pm
For more information
1800 200 700