'No excuses - it's your life': Sunderland foster mum calls on women to get their smear test after cancer diagnosis
A Sunderland foster mum has called on women to put their fears aside and book their smear test after hers helped diagnose a cancer which otherwise would have been missed.
Andrea Oliver was showing no signs of being unwell when her check sparked a series of investigations.
She was first sent to Sunderland Royal, then the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead and finally to Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital as biopsy checks were clear, despite them knowing cancer cells were present.
Andrea has been full of praised for the work of each team, hailing them “superb” and “remarkable” worked to trace the cancer, which was diagnosed as a stage two vaginal cancer, a rare form of the disease, after a 3cm tumour was found.
In the wake of her diagnosis, she has shared a social media post which has been shared far and wide, with word already reaching her that a woman in London has made her appointment after putting it off for a decade.
Andrea’s treatment will begin on Monday, June 28, when she will receive five weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, with specialist hopeful that will ensure she is cancer-free.
She said: “You hear all the excuses not to go for a smear, ‘I need to sort my bikini line’, ‘I’ve put on a bit of weight’ – we’re talking about your life.
"I was showing no symptoms of it, so probably in another five years I would have been riddled with it.
"The response to the Facebook post has been fantastic, if someone books up for their smear who wouldn’t have otherwise, then it’s all worth it.”
In the post, she told followers she was sent her reminder and “as always I moaned and groaned about going.”
She added: “I’m too busy, have better things to do, I don’t have any symptoms, but I agreed and along I went, expecting the results to come back negative and I would then be left alone for the next five years."
Andrea, who is married to Marc and is caring for three children in their care, added: “The reason my chances are so good is because it was found early and the cancer did not have chance to spread to other areas of my body.
“Earlier treatment stands a better chance.
"I saw the effect that this news had on my family, the sleepless nights I spent wondering who would look after my children, how would my husband manage without me and today I saw the desperate faces of those patients at Newcastle Centre for Cancer Care who aren’t so lucky.”
Andrea, who set up a Facebook page to support people through the pandemic, goes on to urge men to ensure the women in their lives get checked out too and added: "My story would have been so much different had I not decided to go and I would not have had the chance to see my girls grow up, or to grow old with my husband or to enjoy life past my age.
"If nothing else, learn from my story and please get checked. Give yourself the best chance possible.”