Woman diagnosed with cancer just one week after her dream wedding
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A cancer diagnosis is a devastating revelation for anyone, never mind when it comes just after your wedding day.
But this is exactly what happened to Sophie Banawich, 30, when she returned from her honeymoon to discover that she had stage 1 cervical cancer.
The shock revelation came about after Sophie had her regular smear test, which detects cervical abnormalities caused by HPV.
Sophie, from Kirkby, Liverpool, said she had no symptoms prior to getting diagnosed and said her story is a testament to the importance of attending your smear test.
Sophie said of her first test at the age of 25: "After my first test came back detecting abnormal cells, I was advised to have a test every 12 months instead of every three years, just to keep an eye on them.
"At the time it wasn't anything to worry about, but the cancer was caught early thanks to having regular smear tests.
"Having smear tests saved my life."
Sophie, who has two children, Cooper, four, and Nella, one, said the birth of her daughter in August 2021 delayed her annual test.
After the 12-week delay passed, she finally had a smear in November 2021, but the pandemic saw her results delayed again by six weeks.
This test found abnormal cells and Sophie was told that she would need to have them removed.
She said: "I was told the cells were too high up the vaginal wall and they couldn't do the procedure in the clinic as I would need to be asleep."
The procedure eventually took place in February of last year when the abnormal cells were removed through a process known as a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) and tested.
Sophie was then given another follow-up smear six months later, where doctors assure her that they didn't expect to find anything abnormal so soon after the cell removal.
She said: "The consultant said she wouldn't expect to still see severe abnormal cells after having surgery to remove cells in such a short period of time.
"I had to have another emergency procedure there and then."
At this point, Sophie's wedding was just around the corner, and the consultant assured her that she most likely did not have cancer.
Then, in September 2022, after returning from her Croatian honeymoon with her partner of 10 years, Sophie was given what she described as 'good and bad news'.
She said: "I was given good and bad news.
"I was told I did have stage one cervical cancer, but they were confident that the two procedures had removed it all."
The mum added: "I do feel very lucky, because my consultant was very clear, if I had not had my smear test, I would have been looking at a completely different outcome."
Sophie is now sharing her story in a bid to open up a conversation about the importance of having your smear test - stressing that they really do save lives.
She said of the procedure: "I know women may worry about what is going to happen, but it’s quick and so important.
"It doesn't hurt and you don't need to be embarrassed. It's a little uncomfortable but imagine the pain of cancer.
"You think you are invincible when you are young, but cancer doesn’t care what age you are.
"Please get it done."
Topics: Sex and Relationships