Jade Goody documentary taught me bruise on my leg was cancer and saved my life – The Sun

AS tears rolled down Caroline Bradshaw's face while watching a Jade Goody documentary – she knew she desperately needed to book her smear test.

The 34-year-old had put off having the cervical cancer screening for a shocking seven years as she juggled being a mum to two young children and moving house.

But, as she watched the story of Jade's death on Mother's Day in 2009 and saw the reality star's sons left without a mum, Caroline knew she needed to take action.

After weeks of the documentary playing on her mind, Caroline, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, signed up for her smear test in the hopes she wouldn't face the same fate as Jade.

However, she was left heartbroken when weeks later, doctors told her she had cervical cancer – as she had a 40-80mm-wide squamous cell carcinoma on her cervix.

Caroline underwent a radical hysterectomy and is now facing a gruelling wait to find out if she will require further treatment to treat her stage 1B2 cancer.

The stay-at-home mum is sharing her story to raise awareness for cervical cancer and to urge other women to get their smear test done.

Writing in an emotional Facebook post, which has garnered more than 18,874 likes, shares and comments, she said: "It was no one's fault but my own, missing that smear test. I carelessly told myself, 'that won’t happen to me'.

"Not long after, I had an evening to myself and came across the Jade Goody documentary on catch up. I watched it and cried. I cried thinking of those poor boys without a mum now.

I carelessly told myself, 'that won’t happen to me'

"That documentary played on my mind for weeks before I took the plunge and booked the test. Just get it done for my girls I told myself, what’s the worst that can happen!

"I have had the option of having more children taken away from me but I am so unbelievably grateful for the gorgeous girls I already have.

"[I am] just so glad I finally got around to having this smear test done nearly seven years since my previous one.

"If I missed another one who knows what the result could be for me. All I know now is it’s going to be a tough road ahead, but it could have been even worse.

"There really wasn’t any need for it to have got to this point tho all because I didn’t see the importance of it. It really is ladies. This could happen to anyone."

Caroline had put off booking her smear test as she had "too much on" when reminders were sent by her doctor.

In particular, she ignored an invite to book an appointment in June 2016 thanks to being pregnant and moving house.

Caroline said: "It must have been at least seven years ago that I last went for one.

"When the next letter came through from the doctor, I kept thinking I didn't need to go. I thought, I've got too much on, I'm too busy. I was too busy.

"I was really busy with work and we were moving house at the same time as well. It's easy to just say no to. We were selling the house so I was constantly doing viewings.

"I was pregnant and had an excuse to not go for this one.

"I think because we'd then moved house I didn't register my new address with the GP so I wasn't getting new reminders either.

"It just got put to the back of my mind and I never even thought about it again."

And Caroline later forgot to book an appointment again after giving birth to her second child Areya Bradshaw in March 2017.

Caroline forgot about following up on booking the simple test until she was invited again in April 2019.

At the time, the mum had noticed strange symptoms in her body – including hair loss, blackened toenails and even 'scar tissue' forming on her leg.

However, the problems were dismissed as bad circulation.

It was only when Caroline watched a Jade Goody documentary in September 2019 that she was compelled to have her smear test the following month.

What's a little test when it can save your life?

"It was watching the Jade Goody documentary that really hit home. What's a little test when it can save your life?," Caroline said.

"I put it off again for another two weeks and then thought, no I need to get this booked. I eventually did get booked in.

"But I had been putting it off and off, and why on earth did I do it? I really don't know."

After the smear test in October, Caroline was on holiday when she got a text confirming an appointment had been booked for her with a consultant and feared the worst.

But when her colposcopy and biopsies came back negative, she believed she was cancer free and delayed booking a follow-up Lletz test to confirm until January this year.

It was then that doctors told her she had a 40-80mm-wide squamous cell carcinoma on her cervix  and needed a radical hysterectomy.

"[When I found out] it was odd, I started shivering as if I was cold," Caroline said.

"Someone else said the same thing happened to them and they think it was shock. I was shivering as if I was cold. That's all I was doing for ages.

"Even though I'd prepared myself the hour before, I still burst out crying [when they told me]. I cried a lot that night. After that evening, I was okay.

"My husband is a very matter-of-fact person and he was saying we could deal with it and get through anything.

"Having him by my side was absolutely fantastic to help me get through it and not feel too negative about it. I feel like I got all my tears out of the way that night.

"Even waiting for the MRI we were laughing at things and getting on with it. Even on holiday the week after with my family, they said they wouldn't have known as I was so normal.

"I didn't dwell on it too much. I felt like I got all the emotion out of the way that night I was told.

"You've got to pull through and do it for your kids."

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
  • Diarrhoea
  • Incontinence
  • Lower limb swelling

After her surgery on February 19 this year, Caroline now faces a gruelling wait to find out if she will require further treatment to treat her stage 1B2 cancer.

She added: "It is what it is. I'm glad I've got this big surgery out of the way. Just waking up from that was my main concern from that at the time.

"Now that bit is out of the way, if they throw more at me I'll be okay."

Caroline and her husband Josh Bradshaw, 30, had considered having more children in the future, but now she is happy to concentrate on their two daughters.

Caroline said: "Having more children had been one of those things where we'd wait and see what happened. My husband had mentioned having more children a few times.

"Now the option has been taken off me. But I'm happy and incredibly grateful that my time and attention is already taken up with my two girls.

"On holiday I was looking around at all these tiny babies and thinking they were cute and it might be nice to have another, but it really doesn't matter.

"It's just not worth putting off. A smear test takes 30 seconds to get done.

"The nurses are so used to doing it day in day out that they don't see anything different about them.

"It's so normal to them, so don't make it abnormal to yourself to have to go through.

"Anyone that is having to go past that point just needs to stay positive as well and get what they need to done before it gets worse."

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