The family of a Sunderland woman who died of cervical cancer have backed a charity call for ladies to put aside their embarrassment and get checked out.
Amber Rose Cliff, a Gentoo worker from Ashbrooke, died a year ago aged 25 after developing the disease four years earlier.
As Cervical Cancer Prevention Week launches today, her family have reached a milestone, with more than 350,800 people now backing their online petition, Amber’s Law, calling for a change in the rules, which would see women aged under 25 who symptoms be offered a check.
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust (JCCT) is warning that as many as one in four eligible women (aged 25-64) do not currently take up their invitation for a smear test, rising to one in three among 25-29 year olds
Amber’s family have been in discussions with Jo’s Trust about how they can work together, and are supporting the awareness campaign.
Her father, Darren, 52, said: “We all appreciate women feel very self-conscious about their bodies, but at the end of the day their health has to come first.
“We hope that by helping to raise awareness, more girls will go for their smear, and that’s what we’re about and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is looking at something different to us, but we’re working together to get that message out there.”
He added the Amber’s Law campaign had received another boost thanks to Dominique Davis, who is originally from Hetton and now lives in Chester-le-Street, and runs the Allthatisshe Instagram account, followed by 447,000 people.
She posted a story about Amber and the campaign, with Darren crediting the post for 4,000 new signatures to the petition.
As it stands, only women over 25 are invited for a test, but the petition calls on the Government to offer access to a check if they visit their GP with symptoms on two occasions.
We all appreciate women feel very self-conscious about their bodies, but at the end of the day their health has to come first.Darren Cliff
The JCCT, which us raising awareness through the #SmearForSmear hashtag, said its research involving 2,017 ladies has found 35% of young women were too embarrassed to attend their test because of their body shape.
Across the UK, one in four eligible women aged 25 to 64 do not take up their smear test invitation, this rises to one in three among 25 to 29-year-olds and is even as high as one in two in some areas of the UK.
Robert Music, the charity’s chief executive, said: “Smear tests prevent 75% of cervical cancers so it is a big worry that so many young women, those who are most at risk of the disease, are unaware of the importance of attending.
“It is of further concern that body worries are contributing to non-attendance.
“Please don’t let unhappiness or uncertainty about your body stop you from attending what could be a life-saving test.
“Nurses are professionals who carry out millions of tests every year, they can play a big part in ensuring women are comfortable.”