The mother-of-two told how a routine test ‘saved her life’. Sophie Banavich said that at age 25 she had a routine pap smear that showed abnormal cells.
After that, the 30-year-old woman had annual swabs at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital, and in February 2022, more abnormal cells were found and Sophie underwent a procedure to remove them.
A follow-up swab after the operation found additional abnormal cells, reports the Liverpool Echo, and so Sophie underwent the procedure again. She said she knew something was wrong when she got a call back from the hospital.
She said: “They said they had good news and bad news, I had cervical cancer but they were sure the procedure removed it all. I instantly panicked and asked for a hysterectomy, I had two kids, Cooper, now four, and Nella, one, and I knew I didn’t want any more kids. But my brilliant consultant at Liverpool Women’s, Sophie Leys, made me feel so at ease and made it clear to me that I didn’t need it.
“A hysterectomy is a major operation and I’m still very young, but it could still be an option if my pap this March shows any abnormal cells.”
The consultant told Sophie, who had no symptoms, if she hadn’t had a smear test, she would have had a “completely different result.” Now she shares her story to raise awareness of the importance of cervical screening during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (January 23-29), an annual campaign organized by cervical cancer charity Jo’s Trust.
She said, “Sophie Lace told me to scream from the rooftops that slander saved my life, that’s what I do. Go for a cervical examination, it’s not painful, a little embarrassing, but nothing that those who do this procedure have never seen before.
“It saved my life and it can save yours.”
Cervical screening (also called a pap smear test), which looks for the human papillomavirus (HPV), is offered to all women and people with a cervix between the ages of 25 and 64, with the first appointments shortly after you turn 25. The smear analysis is usually performed in the general practice emergency department by a nurse.
Despite the potentially lifesaving benefits of cervical screening, fewer than seven out of 10 people in the Northwest who were eligible for cervical screening attended their appointments between June 2021 and June 2022. North West said: “Cervical screening is very important and is one of the best ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer.
“Regular cervical screening is about prevention, so if there are any changes or abnormalities, we can track and treat them before they turn into cancer.
“Please do not ignore your invitation to undergo a cervical screening. We understand that this can be uncomfortable or embarrassing and that you have a busy life, but we will do our best to make your meeting as comfortable and convenient as possible.”