Actually it’s several months past that time.

I had my reminder letter back at the beginning of December last year, but then it was Xmas, and then I was busy writing, and then, well, any excuse I could come up with to be honest to put the thing off.

But like a lot of women, the publicity over Jade Goody’s cervical cancer, and the news that she’s now been told she’s only got a few months to live, has woken me up a bit.

I hate smear tests, but I hate the thought of cervical cancer and dying even more, so tomorrow I’ll be ringing the surgery and booking my appointment.

Apparently there’s been 20% increase in the number of women going for smear tests since Goody was told about her cancer last August. She’s reported to be really pleased about this, and has cited raising awareness among other women as one of the reasons she intends to stay in the media spotlight right up to the end.

Her strategy’s certainly working. I was at the hairdressers earlier today and this was the main topic of conversation among both the staff and the customers. There was a lot of discussion about the government’s decision a few years ago to raise the age of those eligible to be screened from 20 to 25 (this only applies in England: both Wales and Scotland continue to screen women from the age of 20), a decision based on this research, with most women there agreeing that the age should be reduced again; but I can’t see that happening, especially now that girls are going to be getting the HPV vaccine.

There was also quite a lot of ignorance about the symptoms to look out for, with a lot of women not even being aware there were any.

Often there aren’t symptoms, especially in the early stages, but sometimes there can be. These can include:

  • Abnormal bleeding: after sexual intercourse, during or between periods
  • Post menopausal bleeding, if you are not on HRT or have stopped it for six weeks
  • Unusual and/or unpleasant vaginal discharge
  • Discomfort or pain during sex
  • Lower back pain

Anyway, back to Jade Goody. Anton Vowl has a great post up about the media’s hypocritical treatment of her over the past few years that pretty much sums up my feelings on the issue. Like Anton, I don’t blame Goody at all for making as much money as she can in her final months; she should do whatever she feels she needs to do to secure her sons’ futures, and if her wedding and all the media attention helps take her mind off her illness and her inevitable death, then good luck to her.