Kim Hanly, 34, Dublin
I am a proud survivor of cervical cancer. I am sharing my story as an example of exactly why women should get screened and vaccinated.
Sheer embarrassment about the smear test meant I only got mine done a year late at 26, after experiencing pain and bleeding. Really, I had nothing to worry about - the test itself is only slightly uncomfortable and takes 10 seconds.
The results detected abnormal cells in my cervix, and after further tests I received my cancer diagnosis on July 19, 2012. I’ll always remember the doctor’s words: ‘I am sorry to tell you this Kim but you have cancer.’
The next few weeks were a whirlwind of scans, tests and hospital appointments.
I had surgery for a radical hysterectomy on September 3, 2012. I said my goodbyes to my family before going into the theatre, and all I remember afterwards was the burning pain - I was in more bits than a box of Lego!
I got the all-clear on September 24, but that wasn’t the end of it. I still had to deal with the after-effects - bowel issues, fibromyalgia, early menopause and further surgeries, along with the reality that I can’t have any more children.
There have been positives to my story. Despite all of these difficulties I graduated with my BSc, and set up a support network for cervical cancer in Ireland - my pride and joy!
The whole point of telling you this is to show how avoidable it all is. I was too late to receive my vaccine, a vaccine that has been proven safe time and again. As long as I’m here, I will continue to advocate for it.
No woman should go through what I have experienced and am still going through. So please, please get the HPV vaccine and attend your smears.
Contact the Irish Cancer Society Support Line
Our Support Line is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm offering support and advice
for anyone affected by cancer on Freephone 1800 200 700.