Women spread #SmearForSmear message during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

Guests and organisers of the Smear for Smear event in Stockton.
Guests and organisers of the Smear for Smear event in Stockton.

Women from across the region, including Hartlepool, came together to raise awareness during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.

Sharon Charlton, a nurse specialist who is based at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, was one of the guest speakers at the fundraising event in Stockton.

Susan Charlton.

Susan Charlton.

It was organised by PR and marketing firm Resolution Communications, whose managing director, Sharon Starkey, was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, but says a regular smear test saved her life.

After her experience, she was keen to raise awareness as part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.

Sharon said: “I am living proof that the smear campaign saves lives, I presented no symptoms and if I hadn’t attended my regular smear I wouldn’t have been offered the treatment options.

“Most women can relate to being embarrassed and uncomfortable but we want to raise awareness that those five minutes can save lives.”

The fundraising event, attended by local women, was organised to raise awareness and funds for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust through the #SmearForSmear campaign.

It encourages women to take a picture of themselves with their lipstick smeared and to share it on social media to spread awareness of cervical cancer.

Make-up artists applied the lipstick to the guests during Friday’s event, when there was prizes, food and bubbly laid on.

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is the only UK charity dedicated to women affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities.

Nine women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer every day. It is the most common cancers in women aged 35 and below.

Three-quarters of cervical cancers are prevented by screening, but one in four women do not attend their smear tests.

Sharon Charlton, a gynaecology, oncology and trainee colposcopy nurse specialist of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The statistics speak for themselves and it is worth bearing in mind these are national figures. Regional non-attendance figures can be even higher.

“It is important we raise awareness and help ladies understand the importance of the screening programme, and the Smear For Smear Campaign is a great example.”