Woman Reveals Impact Disease Has Had On Life As She Supports Major Awareness Campaign
A midwife diagnosed with cervical cancer after two previous smear tests were incorrectly recorded as normal has revealed the impact the disease has had on her life.
Heather Millward, of Congleton, Cheshire, attended two regular screening appointments. She was told the results were clear.
Cheshire woman Heather diagnosed with cervical cancer
Following a third smear in February 2022, Heather was told she had human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that can lead to cancer. Following tests, she was diagnosed with the disease.
Heather underwent a radical hysterectomy and surgery to remove lymph nodes. She also underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy leaving her with permanent side effects including back and hip pain, lymphoedema and psychological injury.
Following her diagnosis, an audit of the two previous routine smear tests she had in 2016 and 2019 found that the results were wrongly classed as negative when they showed visible pre-cancerous cell changes.
Heather asks lawyers to investigate after being diagnosed with cancer
Heather, aged 47, has now instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate whether more could have been done to prevent her cancer developing.
She has now joined her legal team in supporting Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.
Shahin Master is the specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Heather.
Expert Opinion“Coming to terms with her diagnosis and its impact has been incredibly difficult for Heather and the rest of her family.
“Understandably she has a number of concerns about her diagnosis. Heather is particularly concerned as she regularly attended routine smear tests and an audit of her previous results found these showed pre-cancerous cell changes and weren’t negative, as she was initially told.
“We’re now investigating Heather’s concerns to provide her with the answers she deserves. She also needs access to specialist support and therapies as a result of her cancer treatment.
“However, in the meantime it’s vital that women continue to participate in the cervical cancer screening programme. Through our work we sadly see the impact that cancer can have and how early detection and treatment are key to beating it.” Shahin Master
Heather reveals impact cervical cancer has had on her life
Heather said: “It’s almost impossible to find the words to describe what the last couple of years have been like.
“Even though I work in a medical environment nothing prepared me for the news I had cervical cancer, especially as I’d received clear smear test results previously and appeared to have no cause for concern.
“The treatment, particularly while trying to come to terms with my diagnosis was difficult, not just physically but emotionally.
“I tried to remain as positive as I could but it was difficult given the gruelling treatment I had and the side-effects.
“While my treatment is over I still live with the consequences. I live in pain and it has had an impact on my career options.
Heather supports Cervical Cancer Prevention Week
“I’ve been involved in the screening programme, not only professionally through my work but also by attending regular smears for years. I’ve always been a strong advocate for the importance of being tested regularly and continue to be.
“It’s important that people continue to attend appointments, or if they believe they may have any symptoms of cervical cancer, they seek medical advice as soon as possible.
“However, I feel that I deserve answers regarding my diagnosis and hope that by speaking out I can help others.”
Cervical Cancer Prevention Weeks runs from 22-28 January. More information can be found on the website of the charity Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust.
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting women and families affected by cervical cancer at our dedicated cervical cancer claims section. Alternatively, to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.