Irish woman Heather Keating who beat cervical cancer urges women to learn symtoms
An Irish woman deemed too young to be tested for cervical cancer has urged others to learn the symptoms of the disease and get a smear test.
Heather Keating shared her story on Facebook.
At the age of 24, she visited her doctor complaining of bleeding in between periods and after sex, only to be told to return when she was 25, when she would be eligible for a test on the Irish National Cervical Screening Programme.
However, as the symptoms persisted, she became anaemic and after a referral to a specialist was eventually diagnosed with stage one cervical cancer.
Describing the moment she was given the news, Heather said: "You know the room where people get bad news - with the box of tissues on the table. I knew what was coming.
"I was told I had cervical cancer and that box was handed to me. I needed an MRI to see if the cancer had spread from my cervix."
Fortunately, the cancer was caught early and was confined to the cervix, so the malignant cells were removed in surgery with no need for further treatment.
Four weeks later, after going under the knife, Heather was given the all-clear.
Looking back on her ordeal, she wrote: "That was the most dramatic, emotionally painful experience of my life, and no one should ever have to go through it."
Heather told how she wanted to share her story to help people recognise the symptoms so the disease can be caught "in time or before it even begins".
Her Facebook post was liked and shared thousands of times, with people praising her bravery.
Many hailed her as "an amazing role model" and passed on their best wishes.
Heather initially shared her experience in January, but reposted it ahead of Cervical Cancer Awareness Week and World Cancer Day. It has since been shared more than 4,000 times.
She said: "I hope my story will help others see the importance of going for smears and listening to your body and knowing when something isn't right.
"And, for the under-25s, it's always worth knowing the symptoms of something that's already gone wrong."