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Cardiff Alumni 2015 – Hayley Sherlock

30 July 2015

Hayley Sherlock – ‘Remember when you’re 25’

I spoke to Cardiff Alumni Hayley Sherlock about her Cardiff University experience and why she started up her blog ‘Remember when you’re 25’. Hayley graduated from ENCAP in 2012 and now works in marketing.

Deciding where to study can be difficult but from the open day Hayley had her heart set on Cardiff University.

“I just love the city. I’d never been to Cardiff till the open day. The course was pretty open and I didn’t really have an exact idea of what to do (after University). The course could lead you to different things.”

Hayley explained to me that she loved the independence of coming to Cardiff University and being away from home as well as her course.

“I actually just loved being on my own and being independent. I learnt a lot about time management; that was probably one of my most difficult challenges. But towards the end of university I got a better balance.

“I loved doing the course as well and meeting loads of people. It’s really interesting, communication can reach different people. I guess I have always been interested in that. By just doing a couple of things your message can reach thousands of people. It’s very interesting.”

As well as enjoying the experience of going to Cardiff University Hayley learned skills that would she would carry with her into her professional career.

“I think it gave me confidence… It kind of set me up with skills – life skills, and work skills.”

Although leaving University can be difficult Hayley was ready to take on new challenges and experiences.

“I felt like I was done with education and wanted to move on to the next stage of my life. Whatever that was going to be.

No, I had no idea what I wanted to do (after university). I didn’t really plan very much. I chose the course because it interested me and that’s how I saw it, it gave me skills that I could apply to various different jobs and that’s what I wanted.”

During her time at Cardiff University Hayley had a routine smear test which was given an all clear with no irregular results. Because Hayley had this smear test she was called back three years later for another regular check-up appointment.

“I thought nothing of it…then the situation escalated. I got called back again and yeah got told the news that I had cancer.

“Whatever plan I thought I had in my head completely changed. From there on in there was hospital appointment after hospital appointment. No one I knew was going through a similar thing and…. I just had no idea that this could happen to me or it could happen to someone my age. I had no idea really about what smear tests were even for. I just didn’t have any clue. I had just gone to my appointment because, I thought I would just go along even though I really didn’t want to!”

Her passion and drive to raise awareness of cervical cancer led Hayley to set up her blog, ‘Remember when you’re 25’. Her blog tells her story about what she went through and acts as a kind of outlet for Hayley.

“I am so passionate about it and I have realised that I could happily do this blog for years. I get so much satisfaction out of it, when people message me and say “I’m twenty six and I’ve never had a smear test. Thanks for sharing this blog I am going to get one and encourage my friends”, they really make my day. When the blog hit 6,000 views I was just so happy. I remember thinking go it’s been ages since I have been this happy – genuinely so happy. It’s been a really great thing that I have done and I really hope that some really good things come out of it.”

Recently, Wales has increased the age for smear test to twenty-five, something that both Hayley and many of the public disagree with.

“For me, personally, I am a bit scared by it. If I had been a year or two years older it would have been a different story for me personally. And for me I can’t help but think that as statistics go there is going to be a few girls who are not going to be as lucky as I was, who are going to Cardiff University now and just don’t have that opportunity anymore.

For me it is just absolutely ridiculous people should be able to have the option at least. At the moment I have a lot of friends that have gone to get theirs done and they have been refused…people that wanted to get a smear test done are getting refused and turned away.”

We all know that going to get a smear test can be uncomfortable and at times embarrassing but Hayley told me how this awkwardness only lasts a few minutes compared to months of hospital appointments.

“All I can say is that actually going to the doctor and the twenty seconds of that is absolutely nothing compared to the thorough gynaecological examinations and operations I had – I mean I couldn’t walk for about two weeks. It is worth doing that (a smear test) and getting over it – it’s only every three years. Just think they do it all the time!”

“It has changed my life. It affects you in so many ways, it affects your family and friends. I feel it is my responsibility to get it out to as many people as possible now. It’s so easy (to have a smear test done). Its five minutes of your life.”

Please read Hayleys blog here – Remember when you’re 25  – Taking her advice and getting a smear test as soon as you can could be life saving.

For more information about Cervical Cancer please take a look at the following websites:

  • http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cancer-of-the-cervix/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  • http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/type/cervical-cancer/cervical-cancer-organisations

 


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