Cancer screening may have saved Portree woman Jo-Anne Ford's life not just once but twice and now she's leading the fight to persuade others to take part.
For Jo-Anne is spearheading a new campaign by NHS Highlands to persuade other women to participate in the Scottish Cervical Screening Programme.
According to the 46 years old regular participation in screening may have prevented her developing cervical cancer twice, and potentially saved her life.
And now under the banner of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week she hopes to help raise awareness of the programme, which invites all women aged from 25 to 64 to regularly attend cervical screening.
“I have participated in cervical cancer screening since my early twenties and I’m in no doubt as to how important it is,” she explained. “It was thanks to regular participation in screening that pre-cancerous cells were discovered in my cervix when I was 34.
“The test aims to pick-up changes in your cervix so they can be monitored or treated. I was lucky that changes were spotted at an early stage, allowing them to be treated before they developed further.
“After my treatment, I continued to have the smear test. Unfortunately I had abnormal cell changes a second time five years later, by which time I had moved to Skye. It was during this time I discovered the fabled Highland hospitality was genuine, as the nurses and staff at the hospital were fabulous with me.”
Across Scotland, approximately 300 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and it is the most common cancer among women aged 34 and under.
“It’s because of this that I want to tell my story and highlight the importance of cervical screening,” Mrs Ford explained.
“I appreciate that it is a delicate subject, however I would encourage women to put embarrassment to one side and take part in cervical screening. I’m living proof of how important it can be.”