Cervical cancer survivor, 24, shows that it can happen to women at any age

Feb 16, 2016 at 11:48 p.m. ET

Cervical cancer is one of the last things most women in their twenties think about, but one woman wants that to change.

Heather Keating was diagnosed with stage one cervical cancer at 24 — a scary notion, given that women in Ireland are not allowed a free pap smear before they turn 25.

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"I started bleeding between my periods and bleeding after sex. I went to see my [doctor] and was told to come back when I was 25 for a smear," she wrote in a Facebook post. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I had cancer."


The bleeding got worse in the next three months and she became anemic. She was referred to a specialist who then brought her into "the room" — the one where "people get bad news. With the box of tissues on the table."

She was diagnosed with cervical cancer, but was lucky. "Fortunately the cancer was confined to my cervix and surgery would be able to remove it," she continued. "Four weeks after being told I had cancer it was gone! I was lucky so so so lucky to have caught it on time."

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Keating goes on to explain the symptoms — abnormal bleeding, heavy or longer periods, foul-smelling discharge and pain during sex — so young women are better able to recognize the symptoms and seek medical help in time.

"If your (sic) over 25 please go for your smear tests make time for it! They are so important. I wish I had the opportunity to have caught the cell changes before it became cancerous," she continued. "So please share this and make sure your friends and family are going for there (sic) smears, their (sic) is nothing to be embarrassed about! It could save your life!

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