Liz’s warning after GP’s bad advice on going for a smear

Liz Noble (right) and her partner Barbara - involved in cervical cancer campaign PNL-160130-201724009
Liz Noble (right) and her partner Barbara - involved in cervical cancer campaign PNL-160130-201724009

A brave cancer survivor who almost missed a vital diagnosis because of advice from a doctor has spoken out to help others.

In 1977 Liz Noble attended her former Aylesbury GP surgery for her first smear test, but was told that because she is gay she would not need to come again.

For years Liz heeded her doctor’s advice, and skipped the annual check up.

But in 2004 she and partner Barbara were shocked and devastated when Liz was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Film archivist Liz, 68, said: “I had my first smear test because I was having problems with my periods, I’m gay and was worried about what it was going to be like.

“The doctor told me that I didn’t need to come back for any more and that because of my sexuality my risk of cervical cancer was nil.

“Obviously times have changed in medical science and this advice wouldn’t be given nowadays, but I didn’t know this until 2004 when I received my diagnosis.”

Liz became worried when, even though she had been through the menopause, she experienced a slight bleed.

She visited her new GP, at Broughton Surgery who immediately sent her for tests.

But to Liz and Barbara’s horror the test results revealed that Liz was suffering from cervical cancer, which had spread to her lymph nodes.

Liz said: “Broughton Surgery really was excellent and within a couple of days they referred me to Stoke Mandeville.

“When they told me I just couldn’t believe it was devastating news. I had to have a radical 
hysterectomy at John Radcliffe Hospital, and then chemotherapy and radiotherapy which was worse than the cancer.”

It was during this time that Liz came across Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust online, and was able to talk with other women going through treatment.

Liz, who is now cancer free, said: “It affected our relationship quite badly, because Barbara was healthy and I wasn’t, I was really angry, especially with the doctor who had given me the advice about getting a smear test.

“It was really bad, and it felt as though we were on the verge of splitting up.

“Jo’s was in it’s early stages at the time but it really, really helped, it was wonderful to be able to talk to other woman going through the same thing, and everything got better from then on.”

Liz and Barbara, 64, who is 
retired, recently took part in a YouTube campaign for Jo’s, in which they and other couples talk about the impact that the cervical cancer diagnosis had on their relationship.

Barbara, who is in a civil partnership with Liz, said: “The partner of someone suffering from any form of cancer is usually sidelined, no one ever asked how I was.

“Support for partners is equally important really because you 
are the one who has to stay strong and try to give your partner the support they need, but equally you are going through it aswell.”

She added: “Now we don’t think too far ahead anymore, we just live for the moment, but enjoying every moment too.”

For information and support about cervical cancer go to www.jostrust.org.uk

You can also view the video by typing in Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust on YouTube.

For information and support about all types of cancer go to www.macmillan.org.uk