Marie Louise McConville: Some may find it embarrassing but a smear test could save your life
I was really saddened this week to read a heartbreaking interview with Jackiey Budden, who lost her daughter Jade Goody almost 10 years ago.
The 27-year-old television personality, who had two young sons, died in March 2009 from cervical cancer.
It was a death which touched many people, who had watched Jade battle the illness with great bravery and in emotional scenes, even marry her partner a month before she passed away.
The death led to calls for more women to have smear tests and follow up appointments and in the year after the Big Brother star's death, a record 400,000 women had a test.
However, it was tragic this week to hear Jackiey reveal that the numbers have now fallen away and in fact cervical screenings are now at a 21-year low.
Speaking about the issue, Jackiey said she felt like her daughter's legacy is a "kick in the teeth because the amount of people having smear tests has decreased".
The heartbroken mother added: "I don't get (it) when people say they're embarrassed. We really need to get the figure back up".
I really felt for Jackiey and I was quite shocked that the number of women having smear tests has fallen especially given that fact that around 3,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in the UK each year.
I can't for the life of me understand why some women do not go for these tests.
Yes, I get that it is embarrassing but it lasts a minute and could save your life.
Some years ago, I went for a test and while it was embarrassing, I am very lucky that the nurse in our surgery is just wonderful at putting me at my ease.
However, my results came back showing that I had abnormal cells and my life just fell apart. I was consumed by worry and so scared.
I was referred to a clinic where I underwent a procedure to remove the cells.
Such was my fear, I made a note to follow up my next smear referral and again, my results cam back abnormal and I underwent the whole thing again.
Since then, I have gone to every smear appointment and even followed up appointments myself.
My last two tests have come back normal and I remain so thankful that I had the screenings because it's not just about me, but my family also.
Please ladies, if you do one thing today, book a smear test.
It could save your life - isn't that worth a phone call?
Great news from the world of US television this week - the original Beverly Hills 90210 is to get a reboot.
While I have never been one for shows from the past being re-made, what makes this different is that it will feature the original cast playing "heightened versions" of themselves.
This was without doubt my most favourite show of the nineties, mainly because I was totally in love with Luke Perry who played Dylan McKay.
I'm told there were also other people in the show but I don't remember them at all.
No details yet on filming or broadcast but here's hoping it will be soon.
February can feel dark and dismal, so how about a good read to brighten up your day?
Three Gold Coins by Josephine Moon has been described as a "gorgeously evocative family drama that takes you from sunny Australia to the beautiful Tuscan countryside".
One coin for love, one for marriage and one to return to Rome.
Two days ago, Lara Foxleigh tossed three gold coins into the Trevi Fountain.
Now, she is caring for a cranky old man and living in a picturesque village, half a world away from her home and the concerns of the loving but cloying family.
Soon, it seems as if those wishes she made in Rome might be coming true and she may even be able to help heal a fifteen-year-old tragedy.
Until Lara's past threatens to destroy everything she loves…
I have five copies of Three Gold Coins to give away to five lucky readers.
If you fancy winning a copy, simply email your name, address and telephone number – along with the answer to the question below – to firstname.lastname@example.org
Closing date for entries is 12 noon on Tuesday, February 12, 2019.
(Q) Who wrote Three Gold Coins?
Normal Irish News Rules Apply
The winners of the Movie House Cinemas competition are Barry McCoy, from Dungannon, Brenda Maguire, from Dunmurry, and Karen Smyth, from Belfast.