Mother dying of incurable cervical cancer had been refused a smear2020-01-21
Mother, 31, is diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer ‘after doctors refused to give her a smear test and blamed the Pill for her bleeding after sex’
- Maxine Smith visited her doctor around five times from 2016 – 2018
- She said she was bleeding after sex – a symptom of cervical cancer
- Doctors attributed it to the Pill and refused a smear test as she wasn’t due one
- When she moved house, she got a smear test which found the cervical cancer
- In November 2019, Ms Smith was told her cancer was incurable
- She is spending her time left with her children, George, six, and Mia, five
A mother-of-two with incurable cervical cancer says her life could have been saved if she had been given a smear test on demand.
Maxine Smith started bleeding after sex aged 27 – a symptom of the disease. The 31-year-old visited her doctor several times in 2016 because she was worried.
She claims a smear test was refused because she wasn’t due one until the next year. Women aged between 25 and 49 are invited for a screening every three years.
Instead, the hairdresser was given STI tests and told the bleeding was likely to be a side effect of taking the contraceptive pill.
Ms Smith moved from Congelton, Cheshire, to Cheadle, Greater Manchester, and was able to get a smear test when she asked her new GP.
A smear test doesn’t spot cancer. Instead it looks for abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix that could develop into cancer.
In January 2018, doctors diagnosed Ms Smith with grade three cervical cancer – the most severe. They spotted a 3cm tumour on her cervix.
Ms Smith was told in November 2019 that her cancer had spread and was incurable, despite having undergone several rounds of chemotherapy.
She is now making the most of her time with her children George, six, and Mia, five, after being told she may only have three years left with them.
Maxine Smith, 31, says her life could have been saved if she been given a smear test on demand. She was suffering with symptoms of cervical cancer and claims to have visited her GP around five times. She is pictured before cancer
Ms Smith, a hairdresser, was told in November 2019 that her cancer was incurable after having several rounds of chemotherapy (pictured)
Ms Smith is now making the most of her time with her children George, six, and Mia, five, after being told she may only have three years left with them
Ms Smith said: ‘I believe I wouldn’t be facing the horrors in my life now if I’d have been given a smear test on demand.
‘I don’t think I would have needed all the hard treatment of chemotherapy and then have to be battling it again to lose my life a few years down the line.
‘It’s left my family feeling heartbroken and helpless, my mother keeps saying it should be her and not me.
‘My family are not ready for me to go, they feel cursed.
‘The worst feeling is looking at my beautiful children and realising that I’m going to be stolen away from them.’
Ms Smith claims that she had a smear test at the age of 26 and was due to have another at the age of 29.
But at the age of 27 she began to experience bleeding after sex and went to her doctor in Congleton.
Vaginal bleeding is very common and can have a wide range of causes, so is not necessarily a sign of cervical cancer.
Ms Smith claims that despite asking for a smear test she was not given one because she was due one the following year.
Ms Smith said: ‘I knew something was wrong. I’d kept on getting bleeding and went to the doctor around five times.
‘I was screened for STIs and was told there was nothing wrong with my cervix even though they didn’t do a test.
‘I’m not a promiscuous person so it was all very embarrassing. I went so many times but kept on getting told it was my [contraceptive] pill that was making me bleed.’
Ms Smith started bleeding after sex aged 27 – a symptom of the disease. She visited her doctor around five times because she was worried. Pictured when she was healthy
The hairdresser was given STI tests and eventually told the bleeding was likely a side effect of her contraceptive pill. Ms Smith is pictured before she got diagnosed
Ms Smith moved from Congelton, Cheshire, to Cheadle, Greater Manchester, and was able to get a smear test when she asked her new GP. It was then, in January 2018, that doctors found grade three cervical cancer. She is pictured during treatment
WHAT IS CERVICAL CANCER?
Cervical cancer affects the lining of the lower part of womb.
The most common symptom is unusual bleeding, such as between periods, during sex or after the menopause, but other signs can include:
- Pain during sex
- Vaginal discharge that smells
- Pain in the pelvis
Causes can include:
- Age – more than half of sufferers are under 45
- HPV infection – which affects most people at some point in their lives
- Smoking – responsible for 21 per cent of cases
- Contraceptive pill – linked to 10 per cent of cases
- Having children
- Family history of cervical or other types of cancer, like vagina
Source: Cancer Research UK
Ms Smith was eventually diagnosed with grade three cervical cancer after moving to Cheadle, where she was given a smear test on demand.
A subsequent biopsy found a 3cm tumour on her cervix.
Around 3,200 women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, according to Cancer Research UK.
An estimated 852 women will die from the disease every year.
In the US, 13,800 new cases of invasive cervical cancer are diagnosed every year, and about 4,290 women will die.
At 29, Ms Smith had to endure the pain of having a hysterectomy – an operation to remove the womb – in order to remove her cancer.
She underwent gruelling chemotherapy and was told the cancer was gone. It is unclear when this was.
In November 2019, Ms Smith received the news that her cancer had returned and that it had spread to her lymph nodes and bowel.
Ms Smith is currently receiving chemotherapy to shrink the cancer in an effort to give her some extra time with her children.
She said: ‘My children are quite young but I’ve tried to explain to them what’s happened.
‘I’ve said there’s a flower that’s opening up inside of me and it’s getting bigger and bigger.
‘I’ve told them I have to go to hospital to get this magical treatment that makes the flower close.
‘They know I’m poorly but that’s all I’ve told them. I want to protect them as much as I possibly can.
In November 2019, Ms Smith received the news that her cancer had returned and that it had spread to her lymph nodes and bowel. She is pictured before she became ill
Ms Smith, pictured with her children, said: ‘I won’t be able to see my children grow up to be adults. The doctors have said I’ve got about three years at most’
Ms Smith said: ‘My children are quite young but I’ve tried to explain to them what’s happened. I’ve said there’s a flower that’s opening up inside of me and it’s getting bigger and bigger’
Ms Smith, pictured wearing a wig after chemotherapy, said: ‘I believe I wouldn’t be facing the horrors in my life now if I’d have been given a smear test on demand’
‘Not a day goes by that my heart doesn’t break when I think they won’t have me around one day and I won’t see their lives unfold.’
Ms Smith is now calling for smear tests to be given on demand rather than every three years.
Ms Smith said: ‘I won’t be able to see my children grow up to be adults. The doctors have said I’ve got about three years at most.
‘I’m going to fight this with everything I’ve got. I don’t care how much pain and suffering I have to go through as long as it gives me the chance to stay with the kids for just a bit longer.
‘The NHS have been fantastic, they’ve gone above and beyond and I’m just so grateful to them.
‘I’m hoping to just spend time with my children and enjoy the little things in life with the time I have left.’
Ms Smith’s family and friends are currently raising money for her on GoFundMe to pay for the cost of taking her and her children to Disneyland.
MailOnline has contacted the UK National Screening Committee for comment.
WHAT IS A SMEAR TEST?
A smear test detects abnormal cells on the cervix, which is the entrance to the uterus from the vagina.
Removing these cells can prevent cervical cancer.
Most test results come back clear, however, one in 20 women show abnormal changes to the cells of their cervix.
In some cases, these need to be removed or can become cancerous.
Being screened regularly means any abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix can be identified at an early stage and, if necessary, treated to stop cancer developing (stock image)
Cervical cancer most commonly affects sexually-active women aged between 30 and 45.
In the UK, the NHS Cervical Screening Programme invites women aged 25-to-49 for a smear every three years, those aged 50 to 64 every five years, and women over 65 if they have not been screened since 50 or have previously had abnormal results.
Women must be registered with a GP to be invited for a test.
In the US, tests start when women turn 21 and are carried out every three years until they reach 65.
Changes in cervical cells are often caused by the human papilloma virus (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 getting tested for cervical cancer in a campaign started by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.
Celebrities including model and socialite Tamara Ecclestone, former I’m A Celebrity! star Rebekah Vardy and ex-Emmerdale actress Gaynor Faye joined in to support the #SmearForSmear campaign.
Socialite Tamara Ecclestone supported the Jo’s Trust’s #SmearForSmear campaign
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