A YOUNG mum is battling cervical cancer – after putting off her smear test for years.
Kim Montgomery, 31, revealed she ignored countless reminder letters due to being pregnant with her four children “back to back” for three years.
And she admits she hadn’t realised just how important the screening was.
Earlier this month Kim was dealt the devastating news that she has stage two cervical cancer – and could face a hysterectomy and gruelling chemotherapy.
Kim, from Dunfermline, Fife, is now urging other women to attend screenings, even if they find it embarrassing.
She said: “I want to raise awareness of how important it is for people to have their smear test.
“I hope me sharing my story means more lives can be saved.”
Kim’s ordeal began when she began experiencing abnormal bleeding for nine months.
With something telling her she had cancer, she finally decided to go for her smear test – after years avoiding it.
And it was on February 5 that Kim’s worst fears were confirmed – she had cervical cancer.
Kim said: “I was told the cancer is grade two, but I don’t know what stage it is or if it has spread.
“I had the smear test on December 20 and then in the new year I got a letter to say I had abnormal cells.
You automatically think you are going to die
“I thought right away it was cancer, I just had a feeling, but it wasn’t real until the doctors told me and I broke down.
“You automatically think you are going to die.”
And Kim now says if she had not ignored the reminder letters about her smear test for so long she wouldn’t be fighting cancer today.
She added: “I had been pregnant with my four children back to back for three years and you can’t have a smear test when you are pregnant.
“That was a huge factor in why I didn’t get one for so long, but I also just didn’t realise how important it was.
“I didn’t think I was ever going to get cancer – I am only 31.
“I got lots of reminders about going but I just ignored them.
“When I had my first one 10 years ago I remember it wasn’t nice so I wasn’t in a hurry to go back.”
Kim, mum to Macaulay, three, Kayla, five, Lacey, six, and Dylan, 11, is now terrified about having to tell her children she is dying if doctors give her a terminal diagnosis.
“The doctors won’t be able to tell me how long I have had it, but if I had just gone for a test they would have caught it before it turned into cancer,” devastated Kim said.
“I didn’t want to tell my children until I found out if it’s terminal.
“They know I am not well, and I have told my eldest who said right away ‘are you going to die’.
“The doctors said they think I will need chemo and a hysterectomy, which would mean going through the change.
“It’s really daunting and I wanted to have more children, but I just feel lucky I have my four.
The 5 early signs you could have ‘silent killer’ cervical cancer
Early signs can include:
1. Abnormal bleeding (during or after sex, between periods and also post-menopause)
The most common and earliest sign of cervical cancer tends to be irregular bleeding.
It happens when the cancer cells grow on the tissue below the cervix.
It’s an especially alarming sign in postmenopausal women who no longer have periods. There’s no age limit to developing cervical cancer.
2. Unusual vaginal discharge
Everyone’s discharge is different, so it’s a case of knowing what is normal for you.
If you find that the colour, smell and consistency has changed, then that’s something you really need to have checked out.
When cancer lacks oxygen, it can cause an infection which leads to strange smelling discharge.
3. Discomfort or pain during sex
Pain during sex can be a sign of a number of different issues, but one is cervical cancer.
Because the disease often comes with no symptoms, pain during intercourse is one of the key indicators. It can be a sign that the cancer is spreading to surrounding tissues.
4. Lower back pain
It could be down to you straining something in the gym, or it could be a warning sign that something’s wrong with your reproductive organs.
Persistent pain – just one off twinges – in the lower back, pelvis or appendix can be a symptom of cervical cancer.
5. Unintended weight loss
While effortless weight loss might sound like the answer to many of our prayers, it’s never a good sign if it happens seemingly without cause.
A loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss tend to be signs that the body isn’t working properly – it’s trying to conserve energy. If you notice that you’re not eating as you normally do, go to your GP.
As the disease progresses, it can also result in:
- Increased need to pee
- Blood in pee
- Bleeding from the bottom
- Lower limb swelling
“I had abnormal bleeding for more than nine months and I am still bleeding now.
“I was worried about it but I just kept putting it off until I thought enough is enough I have to go and get it done.
“Since I announced I have cancer on Facebook 19 women have said it’s encouraged them to go and have their smear test done.”
Cervical cancer mainly affects sexually active women aged between 30 and 45.
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The NHS Cervical Screening Programme invites all women from the age of 25 to 64 to attend cervical screening.
Women aged 25 to 49 are offered screening every three years, and those aged 50 to 64 are offered screening every five years.