A Winshill mum who had her life saved after a smear test has spoken of her sadness that one-in-four women are refusing to be screened because they are embarrassed about their bodies.
Kelly Orme, 29, had just celebrated her 25th birthday when she was invited to attend her first cervical screening exam.
Just weeks later her life was turned upside down when the test results came back showing abnormal cells.
Now the mother-of-two has spoken out after shock figures showed one in four women aged 25 to 64 do not currently take up their invitation for a smear test. The figure rises to one in three among 25 to 29-year-olds.
Kelly said of having her smear test: "I was quite nervous about it but I thought I might as well get it over and done with.
"It was routine, lasted a few minutes and I didn't think about it but a few days later I received a letter from the hospital asking me to go in the following day."
Biopsy tests were sent off and five weeks later she received the news she had been dreading.
She had cervical cancer but, luckily it was discovered relatively early, before any symptoms had developed.
She said: "If I hadn't gone for my smear I would be none the wiser now. I had two choices – to have part of my cervix taken away or have a hysterectomy. I already have two children. I think the hysterectomy was the easier way to get it over and done with.
"I was very lucky that the cancer was in the early stages. It was a routine check-up so there were no symptoms. It was very scary. If I didn't go, the outcome may have been very different. The worrying thing is that I had just turned 25 – the age screening begins – so I had the disease before I was allowed to be tested."
Kelly, who is married to Richard and mum to Grace, nine, and Ben, six, said it is very sad that people are willing to risk their health because they are so hung up on "being perceived as perfect."
She said: "It is a two-minute test. The doctors and nurses are not there to judge how we look or to compare us to the last patient they saw. They are there to perform the test and nothing else.
"I would rather put my own body issues aside for a quick simple test than have to wear scars like I do! I have scars physically and mentally. Scars from the surgery but also that permanent memory that my own body was working against me.
"It is scary. It saddens me and worries me how the media has brainwashed us into thinking we must have a perfect stomach or a thigh gap.
"People should embrace who they are and put their health before anything else."
Although Kelly actively encourages women to go for screening, she understood there were a number of reasons why people would not go.
She said: "Whether it is a lack of time, naivety or just pure fear of the unknown, there are a number of factors why people would avoid going and I also think there is a lot of miscommunication, a lot of people seem to believe you don't need to have a smear test until you have had children, which is untrue.
"Everyone is different but I know the importance of going and how those two minutes can save your life. In my opinion if you have a cervix you are at risk of cervical cancer, and that is not a risk you should be willing to take. It is your own health that you are jeopardising by not going for screening.
"The most important thing you need to know is it can happen to anyone and it did happen to me. There is nothing more I can say; just get checked."
The shocking figures have been released by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust at the start of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, just weeks after it was revealed that attendance of cervical screening in England is the lowest for two decades, falling to 72 per cent.
The charity conducted a survey which found that more than a third of women are failing to get tested because of their body shape, while 34 per cent were worried about the appearance of their vulva.
Concerns over smelling "normally" were also a factor while the poll of women aged between 25 and 35 also found a third admitted they would not go if they had not waxed or shaved their bikini area.
But despite low screening attendance, 94 per cent of women said they would have a free test to prevent cancer if one was available.
The charity's chief executive, Robert Music, said: "Smear tests prevent 75 per cent 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."
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35, yet the poll of 2,017 women found three out of five (61 per cent) were unaware they were in the most at-risk age group for the disease.
Just under 1,000 women die from cervical cancer every year in the UK.