By her own admission, Katie Storey has always been a strong advocate of preventative health to stay well - a firm believer in detecting health problems early on before they cause other issues or become more difficult to treat.
Just before her 25th birthday she phoned her GP to book a smear test (the age when women become eligible for cervical cancer screening).
The mum of two young children, continued to go for smear tests when called and they were all fine until she reached 31. She went along for her test and the result came back as HPV positive – a common result which often clears up on its own. However, standard NHS practice is to get checked again a year later to see if the HPV has gone.
Fast forward to February 2022 when Katie went for a follow up smear which again showed a HPV positive result. Katie was booked for a colposcopy to investigate further, followed by a biopsy a few weeks later.
She received a phone call in July asking her to go to hospital first thing the following morning and to bring someone with her. It was at this point that she knew something wrong.
Together with her mum, she went to her appointment to be told that she had the early stages of cervical cancer. Naturally, it didn't register straight away. It was only when the consultant asked how old her children were that she burst into tears.
She couldn’t imagine not being there for them or seeing them grow up and panicked about how she was going to tell her husband Kevin, wider family, and friends. At the same time, her stepdad had received a diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer.
Katie went for an MRI scan several weeks later and the results showed that the cancer was contained in her cervix. This came as a huge relief.
With a family holiday planned, Katie was determined to go and have the best time. On arriving home, she saw her consultant the following morning who confirmed that a week later she was booked for a radical hysterectomy (the surgical removal of the uterus).
Surgery was followed by weeks of blood thinning injections, administered by Katie’s husband Kevin, keeping up with pain medication and not getting to see her precious children on a regular basis.
She was given the best news ever in October 2022 – the all clear!
Katie, who gave up her corporate finance job for a role as a hospice fundraiser, will still require regular check-ups.
She is keen to stress that she had no symptoms when she went for her smear test and, had she not gone when she did, the cancer could have spread beyond her cervix, making it more difficult to treat.
She is passionate about urging women to attending their smear tests, spreading the message as far and wide as she can that it’s just ten minutes but could save your life!