Ashington woman recovering from cervical cancer gets medical negligence payout due to wrong smear test result
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At a regular check in 2015, required after an abnormal result in 1998, Shona Clark, from Ashington, was told she was clear, but the check should have raised concerns and led to HPV tests.
HPV can cause cervix cells to change and become cancerous but this can be prevented, and if the 45-year-old’s test was correctly interpreted she might have avoided cancer treatment.
Shona said: “Nothing can ever prepare you for the words ‘you have cancer’.
“When my cycle changed in 2018 and I started with bad headaches I knew something was not right, but I did not expect it to be cancer because of my previous smear test result.
“Trying to come to terms with my diagnosis, treatment, and my future was a whirlwind of emotions.”
She added: “I will always be upset at what happened to me because I probably would not have had to go through a lot of what I have if my test result was recorded properly.
“In some respects I feel fortunate as sadly others do not survive cervical cancer.”
A Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals spokesperson said: “We can confirm Ms Clark’s smear test was incorrectly classed as negative in 2015 and we sincerely apologise for any shortcomings in her care and treatment as a result.”
Shona is now in remission, but still feels the “gruelling” effects of the chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hysterectomy, and “extremely painful” brachytherapy she had to endure and has been left with “anxiety, low moods, and fatigue.”
The account manager still struggles to work part-time because of her ongoing symptoms.
She said: “I would go to the gym three times a week or go out shopping or meet friends. I tried to return to the gym but I struggled because of the ongoing aches and pains so had to give it up.”
She added: “I know I still face many challenges ahead to get more of my old life back, but I now want to try and put the last few years behind me and focus on the future.
“I just hope that by speaking out I can help others. Despite what happened to me, women still need to attend smear tests.
“Those with cancer should not feel they have to go through it alone as help and support is available.”
Law firm Irwin Mitchell, which represented Shona in her claim, backed Shona’s call for people to continue participating in screening programmes and urged Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals to learn lessons from the case.
The firm’s medical negligence expert Rebecca Pearey said: “The last few years and coming to terms with her cancer and treatment has been incredibly distressing for not only Shona but all her family.
“Nothing can make up for what she has gone through, but we are pleased that we have been able to secure the answers Shona deserved.
“This settlement will now ensure Shona can continue her recovery and access the specialist support she needs to try and look to the future the best she can.”