Health & Wellbeing Reviews

10 Years On: Why Has the Jade Goody Effect Wore Off?

On 22nd March 2009, reality TV personality star Jade Goody sadly passed away from her battle with cervical cancer. You might be too young to remember Jade Goody, you might have disliked her when she was in the spotlight or you might not have many opinions of her at all. But one thing you should know about Jade Goody, is the legacy she left behind.

Since I had my first cervical screening in 2017, which revealed I had slightly abnormal cells and the HPV virus, I’ve found myself as a bit of an advocate for cervical screenings. I’ve covered my first test on my blog here, as well as what happened when I went for a colposcopy and also some tips to help those who are nervous about attending their first screening.

And recently I’ve found myself thinking about Jade Goody a lot, after watching an hour long documentary I found on YouTube about the year following her death in 2009. The documentary shares unseen footage of Jade and her family, as well as speaks to her Mum, friends and ex-partner about Jade’s life, death, funeral and the awful disease that eventually killed her.

Cervical screenings are available to women ages 25 and over in England (the age is lower in Scotland and Wales) and is completely free and available on the NHS. It’s a quick test, which takes on average 10 minutes from entering your doctors office, to leaving again and in my experience, wasn’t painful or embarrassing. Albeit slightly uncomfortable and an odd sensation.

In 2008 and 2009 – the prime years that Jade Goody made her diagnosis and illness public – cervical screening numbers increased in women aged 25-64 by 400,000. Four hundred THOUSAND. And was more prevalent in younger women (a report from the NHS Information Centre revealed). The Jade Goody effect was in full swing and her tragic story may have saved thousands of others from going through the same thing.

But now, 10 years on, cervical screening attendance is at an all time low. But why?

This scares me. Really scares me. Such a simple test could, quite literally, save your life. And I’m not trying to scare-monger here, I’m just stating a fact. Most of the time, you’ll never know that you have abnormal cells on your cervix. I definitely didn’t. Sometimes they’ll go away on their own but sometimes they won’t and that’s where we need cervical screenings more than ever.

I did some of my own research on Twitter (super reliable, I know!) in the form of polls, just because I was curious about some of the statistics and here’s what I found:

I was a little surprised by some of these results. Not so much by others. It’s a little worrying that 23% of women put off booking their appointment for longer than 3 months after receiving their letter but also encouraging to see that 73% of women aren’t putting off going for any reason. However that does mean out of 109 people, roughly 29 people are putting it off. And if the final poll is correct and that 95% of women either fully or mostly understand what a cervical screening is looking for, then why are we still putting it off?

Embarrassment

I think this is probably one of the biggest reasons that women put off going and it’s not totally unreasonable. Thankfully (probably the wrong word) I’ve visited the doctors and sexual health clinics a number of times in the past, so getting my fanny out really was no big deal but I understand that that’s not the case for everyone. The main thing to remember is that the doctor or nurse doing your test doesn’t give a hoot about what your hoo-har looks like. They’re just glad that you’re there.

Worry about whether it will hurt

Again, another reasonable request. Nobody likes the though of a plastic duck beak looking object going up your minge. For most women, a cervical screening won’t hurt. For me personally, it didn’t hurt and the NHS will say that it shouldn’t hurt but may feel uncomfortable. There will be exceptions to this of course but 1 or 2 minutes of discomfort could save you years of pain. You can also ask for a smaller speculum (that’s the duck beak thing I was referring to) which should ease some worry about this.

Nerves over your results

Another totally reasonable thing to worry about. This was the part that I hated the most and waiting for any kind of results is horribly nerve wracking. My advice for this would be to treat yourself after your examination, make plans for the following week and try and put it out of your mind. Then when your results come through, if they do find anything, do not panic. Read the information carefully before jumping to conclusions. They often provide booklets with information, which can look scary until you actually digest the information and what they’re telling you.

As sad as it is, I think the fact that we don’t have a public figure in the limelight who’s going through what we all so desperately don’t want to go through means a lot of people haven’t got that boost behind them urging them to go. It’s so easy to just brush it under the rug and think, “well I haven’t got any symptoms so I don’t need to worry” when that’s an incredibly dangerous attitude to have.

I like to try and be as neutral as possible in these sort of posts. I can’t force anyone to have their cervical screening and I hate scare-mongering with a passion. But I can try and educate and share my experience, my findings and hopefully a little advice for anyone in a position where they feel they could benefit from it.

If you’re putting yours off, are overdue or know you have one coming up soon and are nervous about it, I hope you found this post helpful and encouraging. And hopefully in the coming months or years we can revive Jade Goody’s legacy.

Have you been for your cervical screening if you’re due one? Are you putting it off for any reason? What are your thoughts on the screening age here in England? Let’s start a healthy discussion and do our bit to make cervical screenings more normal and less taboo.

Jenny in Neverland

Twenty-something lifestyle blogger from Essex. Book lover, Slytherin, organisational wizard and enjoys Motorsport, Disney and Yoga.

68 Comments

  1. I think it’s really important and I also think it so admirable that you are advocating the way you do. Thank you for sharing and educating me more on this matter.

    1. Thank you 😌

  2. I have no idea why, but ti’s so important that people keep getting their smears as the alternative is worse x

    1. Absolutely. I don’t know how anyone can justify that the alternative isn’t worse x

  3. Such an informative post. I would say that the importance of the text isn’t made strong enough, and it is perceived as embarrassing. In Germany, to get the pill you need to have it every year. It’s normal here and spoken about so people don’t mind doing it.

    1. Wow that’s really good practice.

  4. Such an important post! I’ve never really seen a blog post on this before and there desperately needs to be more awareness so well done for sharing this and starting a conversation! I’m 25 in January so I’m expecting a letter telling me about my first test later in the year, I’m dreading it but I know it’s important! xx

    Tiffany x http://www.foodandotherloves.co.uk

    1. You should get one around July! When you’re 24 and a half 😌 it definitely is nerve wracking but the alternative is much more scary.

  5. Well done for raising awareness again and reminding women to get booked in! I’m not yet 25 so haven’t been offered an appointment although I’ll turn 25 in May! I’m pregnant now and I think it was mentioned that I can get one done soon 🙂

    Lozza
    http://girlygabble.com

    1. Ah that’s good! I got my letter when I was 24 and a half but I’m sure you could just ring up and book as soon as you’re 25 😌 Can you have them done when you’re pregnant? Would that affect the results in any way?

  6. I received my letter last year but I’m so nervous to go! x

    http://www.ofbeautyandnothingness.co.uk

    1. Definitely go, it’s not as bad as you think it’ll be x

  7. It’s so important to get tested, and the good thing is that the nurse explains everything, mine was really supportive!

    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

    1. My doctor was the same!

  8. The all time low stats on this really scare me too. I’m not at cervical screening age yet but despite the natural hesitation and knowing its not going to be the most fun I’ve ever had, I’m definitely going! This is such an important topic, thank you for being so open in discussing it
    Soph – https://sophhearts.com x

    1. Thank you and I’m so glad you won’t be putting it off!

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