A woman has urged others to get a smear test after having her womb removed when she put hers off for almost 20 years.
Rachel Boden, then aged 47, assumed her her irregular periods were simply a sign of menopause .
But Nottingham Post reports she found a blood clot and "alarm bells started to ring".
And, a few weeks later, Rachel was told she had cervical cancer .
But it was caught before it could spread too far. She had her womb and lymph nodes removed and some chemotherapy.
Now, cancer-free, Rachel is warning other women to have the smear test.
Rachel, from Nottingham, said: "I didn’t do being ill, therefore when I moved house I never got around to registering with a new doctor.
"I’m one of the lucky ones because I’m still here to tell my tale, but it could have been a very different story had I not done something about my symptoms.
"Ultimately it would have been better if I’d made the effort to get registered with a doctor and get a smear test every 3 years instead.
"Hindsight is a wonderful thing, I only hope anyone seeing this will think twice before ignoring symptoms or getting checked.
"We all need to help ourselves and failing that give the NHS a fighting chance to make us better by catching these things sooner rather than later."
Her sister Bridget Faulder, a 51-year-old mum-of-two, was prompted to get a test herself after finding out her sister had the cancer and realising she hadn’t been in at least six years.
She said: "You think it only happens to other people but statistics show it’s going to catch up with someone in your family.
"I was preaching to my sister that she should have gone – no one is saying it is pleasant but it gives you more of a chance."
Medical experts recommend having one once every three years for women between 25 and 49, once every five years for women aged 50 to 64 and only after an abnormal test for over 65-year-olds.
September is Gynae Cancer Month and, according to the group Notts Gynaecology Support and Help, there are hundreds of cases of the five types in the county every year.
These are, from most to least common, womb cancer, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, vulval cancer and vaginal cancer.
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The awareness secretary, Cherry Davis, herself a cancer survivor, said there is still a taboo about talking about the cancer which needs to be broken.
"Unfortunately gynae cancer awareness needs a massive boost to raise the level to that of some other major cancers," he said. "For this to happen we need to have open honest conversations.
"This will encourage women to have the confidence to see their GP with any gynae issues that are not normal for them.
"If it is a minor problem, it can be treated quickly and resolved but if the problem is more serious, then early diagnosis will be an important factor in getting swift treatment and achieving a successful outcome.
"For women with gynaecological problems, the fear of cancer is a major concern. With early diagnosis and effective treatment, the success rate in conquering this disease and going on to lead a normal life is very good."
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