'It's a test that could save your life'- How a Sunderland mam's cervical cancer battle has helped hundreds of women
When Jamie Lea Church, 35, booked her own smear test in August 2019, she never thought that it would help to detect that she had cancer.
Just three days after her appointment, the mum-of-three was asked to attend Sunderland Royal Hospital where doctors told her they had found abnormalities.
Medics performed an immediate ‘Punch Biopsy’ to remove small pieces of tissue from the cervix for testing and the results showed that Jamie had abnormal cells.
The Fulwell mum went on to have the abnormal cells removed during a LLETZ procedure and they were sent away for testing.
After a three-week wait, the devoted mum was told the devastating news she had cervical cancer on October 23, 2019.
"When you are told you have cancer you totally re-evaluate your whole life,” Jamie said.
"I know I didn’t have it as bad as others and I know I could have had it ten times worse, but I still had the same experience of sitting in that room being told that I have cancer.
"Everyone who goes through cancer experiences that traumatic feeling, it’s awful.”
Following the diagnosis, Jamie then underwent a procedure to cut away some of her cervix to remove the cancerous cells.
Thankfully, the treatment was a success and on December 4, 2019, Jamie was given the incredible news that she was cancer free.
Determined to help other women following her ordeal, Jamie, who runs eyebrow business High Brow on Roker Baths Road, has been raising awareness of the need to go for a regular smear test.
She has spent the last year pushing the message on social media by sharing her own experience in an effort to remind women that the small amount of discomfort could end up saving their lives.
“It is a test that could save your life,” she said.
"It's a free test – you have no reason not to go.
"I can spend longer with a client at the brow bar than it would take to get a smear test.”
Jamie has now received the incredible news that her work is making a significant impact in the city.
A letter from Jamie's consultant confirmed that hundreds of Wearside women who had heard her story went on to book their own smear tests in 2020.
She said: “I have had a letter from the consultant to say that the team who work behind the scenes doing smear tests have seen a huge increase [in the numbers booking tests] since I started the campaign.
"The letter says he [the consultant] was sat in a meeting with loads of different consultants from different hospitals and they all heard about my story, heard about me or noticed an increase in smears.
"It was unbelievable to hear that. It was absolutely brilliant and I was so proud.
“To know that there are so many more people doing it [the test] and that I have made that difference is unbelievable.”
Jamie is now set to take on a 300,000 step challenge in March to raise money and awareness for cancer charity Maggie’s Centres.
She also plans to complete a skydive for a cervical cancer charity once lockdown restrictions allow and is continuing to spread the word on Facebook as well as on her brow business website.