Kaz is spreading the word about cancer screening
A MUM whose life was saved thanks to cervical cancer screening is spreading the word on how important it is for women to attend smear tests.
Karen Coles, 50, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2007 following a routine smear test. Her early diagnosis meant Karen could receive prompt medical intervention and make a full recovery.
Karen, also known as Kaz, said: “I had no symptoms at all. I had a routine smear test which showed it was fully blown cancer. It was a complete shock.” On the day Karen was diagnosed she was given an appointment for a radical hysterectomy, an operation to remove the uterus, cervix, both ovaries, and both fallopian tubes.
“Within four weeks I had everything taken away. They said they would also remove my lymph nodes to confirm whether or not it had spread. Fortunately it hadn't so I was given the all clear after the surgery.
“My first question was what if I hadn't gone for a test? They said they thought the cancer had been there for between six and nine months so it was caught early but if I had left it for another few years it might have been a different story.
“One woman every day in the UK is diagnosed with cervical cancer and it is the mostcommon cancer in women under the age of 35. After my diagnosis I realised that many women, for whatever reason, do not go for screening when invited.
“Since then I've tried to create awareness of the importance of attending smear tests. Cervical cancer is one of the few cancers you are offered the screening for, so why not go?”
Karen, who lives in Downend with husband Ian, daughter Grace, 18, and son Mikey, 14, is part of a 13-strong team which will take part in this month's Race for Life on the Downs, an annual fundraiser for Cancer Research UK.
She will be joined by her children, twin sister Julie and mum as well as friends and friends' children.
Karen is no stranger to the Race for Life - she's been taking part since her late twenties, with only one year missed when she was recovering from her hysterectomy. Since her diagnosis Karen has found family and friends are keen to join her in the race to collect as much money as possible to help stamp out cancer as well as to raise awareness of how important it is for women not to put off attending smear tests.
Karen said her daughter Grace, a student at Winterbourne Academy, has been instrumental in getting such a large group - known as Kaz's Queens and Kings – to run together.
“It was her idea to invite friends to come along to the Race for Life this year. Some had done it individually previously but Grace brought everyone together as a group and organises all the training. She also arranges social events for the team and is laying on a barbecue at our houseafter the race as a thank you to everyone. We're having great fun and it's all been her idea.
“Grace wanted to get involved the year after I was diagnosed and continues to be so keen. It's lovely and I'm really proud of her.”
If you would like to donate to Karen's appeal please visit her online fundraising page.