21 signs you were a school girl in the 00's

The 90's and 00's were great decades - girl power reigned supreme, you could have turkey twizzlers for your school dinner and Britney Spears re-invented the school uniform.  We still went out and bought CD singles when they were released, we'd do dance routines to pop songs in the playground and played Snake on our Nokia's until our hearts were content.  It was a time of fashion mishaps, make-up disasters and ten years of horror hair - but it made us who we are today!

Here are 21 signs you were a schoolgirl in the 00's:

1. Having a sleepover and having to check with everyone's parents how many alcopops they were allowed - rock'n'roll!

2. Before GHDs we had a choice - straight, wavy or crimped.  And all on the same appliance too!

3. The one-stop-shop for all your ear piercing and jewellery needs:

4. You tipp-ex mouse running out of tipp-ex tape and not covering your mistakes properly.

5. This was how we worked out whether we were compatible with boys:

6. Every girl had one of these in her hand bags and a cloud of Charlie Red followed us wherever we went.

7. Body glitter was the in-thing until we realised it was only supposed to go on our cheeks and collarbones - not every visible bit of skin.
 8. Staying up late to watch Footballer's Wives and feeling really naughty.

9. Managing to smash the latest pop song as your ringtone and feeling like a God.

10. Choosing your top friends on MySpace was the toughest decision of your day.

11. Writing everything in smelly gel pens (whatever happened to them!?)

12. 'Too many clips' was not possible.
13. Jacqueline Wilson books were the best.

14. Going to Boots when you got your pocked money to buy some more 'Glitter Babes' make-up and nail varnish.

15. Crying real, teenage girl tears when Will Young beat Gareth Gates in Pop Idol.

16. Predicting everyone's future with these:

17. This was your PE bag:

18. Everyone's first perfume:

19: We all had some Groovy Chick stationery/bubble bath/bedding/everything

20: Feeling really grown up reading this because it mentioned snogging and thongs on the front cover!

21. Owning a pair of these and not being able to wear them outside when it rained:

You may also like: 32 things I wish I could tell my 14-year-old self


How the strength of one family could help save thousands of others from the pain they are going through

Earlier this month I wrote how touched I had been by the story of a brave local woman who lost her battle with cervical cancer.

Emma Fisk was only 25 when she passed away earlier this year after a short battle with a rare form of cervical cancer.

I met her mum and step-mum at the end of August and was struck by their courage, their bravery and their determination to not let Emma's fight have been for nothing.  They are determined to make a change and stop other girls and their families going through this.  Determined to prevent other families experiencing the loss, the pain and the heartbreak that they have felt - and still feel today.

I've since met Emma's mum (Adele) and her step-mum (Ashley) again and was once again blown away by their strength.

It is clear that they miss Emma every single day and that nothing they ever do will bring her back.  But rather than feeling aggrieved they are putting all their love for Emma and their passion into fighting for change.  A change that could save the lives of thousands of other young women.

The Team Emma Campaign was catapulted onto the national stage earlier this month and people all around the world were joining Emma's family to try and make a change.

Adele, Ashley and the rest of Emma's loved ones are trying to reduce the age at which women can have a smear to 18-years-old.  Health professionals continually argue that lowering the age of smear tests would do more harm to young girls than good.  Emma's family understand this argument, but say that whilst abnormal cells can rectify themselves - cancer can't.  If cancerous cells are found during a smear test treatment can begin to treat those before it gets too late.

Those who are for lowering the age of smear tests say girls should begin to be tested as soon as they become sexually active.  But some strains of cervical cancer have nothing to do with how much sex a woman has had, at what age she started having sex, or how many partners she has had.

Girls nowadays get the HPV jab in school which aims to prevent cervical cancer.  But the jab doesn't protect against all strains of cervical cancer.  The type that Emma had can still occur even in those who have had the HPV jab.

Whilst lowering the age seems like a big task, Emma's family are determined to do everything they can.  With the help of their thousands of supporters, they are set on enforcing a change.

Even if that change is that women can be granted a smear upon request.

At present, women who have fears over the health and ask for a smear are told they have to wait until they are 25 and called for a smear.

After Jade Goody died in 2009 campaigners thought this would be the high profile case that could get the smear test age reduced.  Unfortunately, six years on, more young women are continuing to lose their lives because they are being denied a simple test.

I'm not a medical professional and I don't know the complex ins and outs of why the smear test age is what it is.  Not everyone is going to agree that lowering the age is the right thing to do, and of course everyone is entitled to their opinion.

But the more young girls this happens to the more it appears something needs to be done to change the testing procedure.  Families shouldn't have to lose their daughters/sisters/aunties/cousins just because they were denied a test.

The Team Emma Campaign have just launched a petition and, if you are as touched by their tragic tale as I have been, I would implore you to sign it and share it with your friends and family.

Emma's family are organising loads of events in the coming months to keep the profile of their campaign raised and to continue making people aware of their fight to lower the age.

To sign their petition, follow this link to the online petition.  Today they launched their #Mission5 appeal to encourage people to get five friends to sign and share the petition and Emma's story.

You can join #TeamEmma by following this link to The Team Emma Campaign Facebook page.


This started as a Facebook status but then I got carried away.

When I was little I knew I'd never work in a job where I saved people's lives, or caught criminals, or fought fires.  I was never going to be an Olympian or a win a Nobel Peace Prize.  What I lacked to take on any of these professions didn't deter me from my main aim - I wanted to make a positive difference to people's lives.

I have never been good at science so I was never going to invent a medicine or find a cure for cancer, and I'm no good at maths or sport or writing music or building things to make any sort of difference in those areas.

Whilst I may not be very good at most things, I have found a way that I can make a difference to people's lives and that is through my words.

Almost every day I sit at work and think about how lucky I am.  Whether it's lucky about my relatively good health; or the fact I have a job I love; or that I'm surrounded by a loving and supportive unit of family and friends - I take a moment on a near daily basis to appreciate all of that.

I'm lucky because I get to do what I love on a daily basis and that is to make a difference to people's lives.  Whether I'm promoting a charity event for a sick baby, plugging a fundraising drive for a cat sanctuary, raising awareness about stillbirth support groups, or helping people to honour the memory of a loved one, I'm making a positive difference.

Words are the most powerful weapon that we possess and are far too often abused and mis-used.  Having the opportunity to use my words to help others more than makes up for the fact that I am rubbish at helping in other ways.

Whilst I have helped local families and charities raise lots of money, and helped to raise the profile of important issues, nothing I have written ever compared to The Team Emma Campaign.

When I put the heartbreak of Emma's family and friends into words, it catapulted their campaign onto the national stage.  It's got everyone talking about and debating the age at which women should be able to receive a smear test and has raised the profile of their fight for change.

I am in a lucky and privileged position that people trust me to convey their personal experiences and stories.  I'm even more blessed that I am able to honour them and do them proud by making a positive difference.

To find out more about The Team Emma Campaign follow this link.


I've been touched by a story this week about a girl called Emma that I would like to share

In my 14 months of working at my local paper I must have written thousands of stories but none have ever had as much impact on me as one that I wrote this week about a 25-year-old local woman who lost her battle with cervical cancer.

Emma Fisk had been refused a smear test, despite requesting one on numerous occasions, and was told she had to wait until she was 25.  After much fighting and persistence, she was finally granted one and her worst fears were confirmed.  Unfortunately, it was all too late and Emma lost her battle just 13 months after her diagnosis.

Emma's family have now launched The Team Emma Campaign on Facebook where they hope to have the age for smear tests lowered so that women, if they wish, can request a smear test before the call-up age of 25.  I'm not a medical expert - and I'm aware that health professionals have cited strong reasons for not lowering the smear test age - but surely younger women should be given the choice to have a smear before they turn 25?

I've written about this before, when I covered the 'no make-up selfie' craze, and so many people commented with arguments both for and against reducing the screening age.  There are always going to be those who sit on one side of the fence or the other, and always those who have strong feelings about both sides of the argument.  But for Emma's family, and the families of many more young women who have lost their fight with cervical cancer, the fight to lower the age is of huge importance to them for, if it was lower now, their beloved daughters, wives, sisters, aunties and friends would still be here now.

Giving women who are concerned about their health, like Emma was, the chance to have a smear test should not be something that needs debating.  I'm not writing this post to change people's opinions or make those who think it shouldn't be lowered think otherwise, I'm highlighting the Team Emma Campaign and the fight of one family who are doing everything in their power to create a lasting legacy for their beautiful Emma and help to save lives.  If the work they are doing can help save one more woman's life, and prevent more families experiencing the same heartache as them, then it will be worthwhile.

I for one would hate to think that if I requested a smear test now (at 23) due to fears over my health I would be refused because someone decided I should be 25.  Women should be given the option and, to those over 25 who don't go for your smears - don't put it off!

I didn't know Emma but after meeting her mum and step-mum last week and talking them for almost two hours I came away feeling like I did.  The bravery, determination, passion and strength of Adele and Ashley was so inspiring.  I straight away felt like I wanted to do whatever I could to help and have had them on my mind all week - worrying that I hadn't done them or Emma justice with my article.  

I truly hope their campaign continues to pick up momentum and they manage to create a lasting legacy for Emma, saving the lives of thousands of other women in the process.

Here's a bit of Emma's story:

Emma Fisk passed away on Monday, June 8 - just over a year after she was diagnosed with having cervical cancer.  She lived her last few days in her new home in Cliffe, near Selby, with her husband and beloved dog.

Now, her family have started The Team Emma Campaign - a Facebook page which is paying tribute to Emma and the other young girls who have lost their fight against this disease whilst campaigning to have the age at which you can receive a smear test lowered from 25.

Emma had a very big family - four sisters and two brothers - as well as her mum Adele, step-dad Martin, dad Colin and step-mum Ashley. 

In January this year, Emma married her long-term boyfriend of eight years, Dan Fisk, in a magical ceremony, extending their family further when the pair welcomed Emma's dream dog to the fold - a weimaraner named Duchess.

The family have now all pulled together, just a few months after Emma's passing, to start a campaign in her name and create a legacy for their adored Emma.

Emma's mum, Adele Willis, said: "Emma would have done it herself if she was still here.  It's a really painful thing to do but we are finding the strength to carry on and support others in Emma's name."

This timeline of events gives the step-by-step moments of Emma's battle, which she fought hard right until the end.

2013: Emma started with symptoms and was back and forth to the doctors.  Initially she was told it was just water infections or bowel problems, but Adele said Emma always knew it was something more.  

December 2013: Emma was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis which causes inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the large intestine. 

April 2014Emma had an appointment with the colitis specialist at York and mentioned she'd been noticing spots of blood and asked if that was connected to the colitis.  The specialist straight away recommended Emma see her GP and said he was really concerned about the bleeding.  When Emma saw her GP she was still refused a smear test, being told she was "too young" and to wait until she was 25 in October when she would then be called up for one.  

April 2014: Eventually, after much persistence, Emma was granted a smear test in which showed up abnormalities.  Once she received her results, Emma was called up for a colposcopy - a procedure to closely examine the cervix, vagina and vulva for signs of disease.  Whilst undergoing this procedure, Emma's cervix began crumbling and bleeding heavily.  The doctor carrying out the procedure said he couldn't continue with the examination because of the damage it was doing.

May 2014: Emma was diagnosed with neuroendocrine carcinoma - a very rare type of cancer.  

June 2014Emma was called to St James' Hospital in Leeds for a PET CT scan which revealed that her cervix was consistent with a primary tumour.  An MR scan of her pelvis revealed a 3cm by 3cm tumour and was diagnosed as being FIGO stage 2b of the disease.

Adele said: "It was a highly aggressive malignancy that needed treatment straight away with systematic chemotherapy and radical chemoradiotherapy.  Emma asked then about fertility and harvesting her eggs but there was no time, they had to get on with the treatment straight away.  She was told she would never have kids then."

Emma's step-mum, Ashley Crawford, said: "We thought that was the worst it was going to get.  All along they were talking 'cure' - she had a very rare type of cervical cancer.  The injection they give the girls at schools now wouldn't have even stopped it.  It's usually found in the lung and is unheard of in the cervix."

Mid-June 2014: Emma had started her course of chemotherapy.  Despite being devastated by her diagnosis at first, her family said she suddenly found this "inner strength" and was determined to fight it.

Emma had been told she would lose her beloved long hair when the chemotherapy started and, within a week, she was seeing clumps falling out.  Adele said: "Her hair was her glory, I used to always say to her when she was little 'whatever you do, don't ever get your hair cut'.  It was so long, it was proper princess hair for a proper princess."

During her first few cycles of chemotherapy, Emma and Dan got engaged.  After bringing her home from one of her chemotherapy sessions he had champagne and roses in their flat ready and popped the question.

July 2014: Ashley took Emma to a specialist hairdressers in Leeds to get her a wig fitted through the Teenage Cancer Trust.

August 2014: After three cycles of chemotherapy, Emma started radiotherapy which she had daily for eight weeks.  This included chemoradiotherapy and brachytherapy - an internal form of radiation.   

Ashley said: "She never ever once moaned about her illness and never used it to get sympathy.  She was amazing."

October 2014: Emma started another three cycles of chemotherapy.  On October 9, she turned 25 and by the end of the month she had finished all her treatment.

November 2014: Initially, it seemed like it was all good news when Emma received a letter confirming that she had responded well to the treatment and that the tumour was no longer visible or palpable.  She was told this would all be confined with an MRI in six weeks time.

December 15, 2014: Emma had an MRI scan at St James' Hospital and received her results three days later.  Ashley said: "Not once did I, or anyone else, doubt that we wouldn't get amazing news on this day.  But, she was told the original tumour was back and had spread to her liver and the lining of her stomach.    She was told bluntly 'you're not going to live, Emma' and they gave her six months to live."

Adele said: "When we got her home she was just crying saying 'I don't want to leave you, I'm not going anywhere'."

December 22, 2014: The whole family went through to St James' Hospital to see the oncologist.  They said they didn't believe that there wasn't something they could do and were determined to find out if that was the case.

Ashley said: "Ten of us attended the meeting with the specialist but even with the family pressure we were told that even if we put a million pounds on his desk there would be nothing he could do.  Because it was so rare there are no trials or anything - there was literally nothing they could do."

After three days of feeling upset and angry, Emma did it again and found an inner strength - a positivity which left her determined to carry on and fight.

January 2015: Emma and Dan began planning their wedding. 

January 23, 2015: Emma and Dan were married at King's Church in Selby.  Following their local ceremony, the family went to Hazlewood Castle where they spent Friday night ahead of another wedding ceremony - this time a blessing - in the chapel at Hazlewood Castle followed by a glitzy reception with family and friends.

March 2015: Emma finally got her dream dog - a weimaraner - and her and Dan then began looking for a house for the three of them.  Adele said: "She wanted her own house and a garden and her and Dan started looking after they got Duchess.  They found a house in Cliffe and all that went through in May."

April 2015: Emma was practically bed-ridden from April and lost half of her body weight.  She began having trouble eating and was quite often sick.  Adele said Emma shut herself away after this and didn't go anywhere.  She said: "Before she moved into the house, the last time she'd left the house was April 9.  She would only see immediate family and shut everyone else out, she just didn't want people to see her like that.  When she became bed-ridden we'd just lie with her and cuddle her and love her.  This went on for eight weeks."

May 23, 2015:  Emma and Dan picked up the keys to their new home.  Dan spent seven days working for 16 hours a day, with help from family, getting the house ready for Emma.

May 30, 2015: The family had arranged for an ambulance to pick Emma up from her flat and take her to her new home.  Adele said: "I washed her and washed her hair and blow dried it.  I put some make-up on her and got her dressed.  When the ambulance arrived, she high-fived me and said 'let's do this, let's get out of here!'"

June 8, 2015: Emma sadly died at home surrounded by her family.

The family had arranged for a hospital bed for Emma, which she put by the window, and her last days were spent looking out into her garden watching Duchess running around.  Emma never got the chance to go out in her garden herself - the garden that she had so longed for.

Just a few days before she died, Adele and and Amanda, Emma's sister, spent time with Emma.  Adele said: "She was fine, she was good.  When I went to say goodbye to her before I left she said 'mum, I'm really sorry, I know what's happening' and I hugged her and said I would see her on Sunday.  I told her I loved her and she said she loved me too.  That was the last thing she ever said to me.  By the time I went back on the Sunday, she couldn't speak."

That weekend there was a huge decline in Emma's health.  On the Sunday night, Adele and Amanda stayed with Dan and Emma to be close to her.  The Monday morning, Colin and Ashley joined Adele and Amanda along with mother-in-law Linda and Kerry to visit Emma.  Adele said: "I was upstairs with Emma, Linda and Kerry.  She made this noise and squeezed my hand and I said that she needed her dad and Dan to come upstairs straight away.  Early afternoon the district nurses came to see Emma and they too noticed a change in her breathing.  Dan, who was downstairs working on the house, was called upstairs. 

"He ran upstairs and burst into the room and took her hand.  She looked at him and then at her dad.  I was talking to her saying 'we're all here Emma, we love you, thank you for everything' and then she took her last breath and went to sleep surrounded by her family."

After grieving together as a family for the last couple of months, the family said they now feel ready to share Emma's story with everyone else in the hope that they can inspire a change in her memory.
In just three days The Team Emma Campaign Facebook page received over 3,000 likes as people showed their support for the family and for their cause.

Adele, Ashley and the rest of the family are now hoping to continue to build momentum with the campaign and honour Emma's memory.  They strongly believe that if the smear test age was lower, Emma would have had the test and her illness would have been picked up sooner - meaning she might still be here now.

Health experts continue to insist that the potential harm from giving younger women smear tests outweighs the benefits, but this is of little consolation to Emma's family and others in their situation who maintain that she would still be here today had she been granted one at a younger age.

Adele said: "We all get abnormal cells and girls in the younger age bracket do get abnormal cells and they correct themselves.  But we aren't talking abnormal cells, we are talking cancer - and cancer isn't going to correct itself.  If girls were called up for smears earlier, from the ages of 18, then our beautiful Emma would still be here with us today."

To show your support to the Team Emma Campaign and find out more about the family's efforts to lower the smear test age and make them more accessible to women under 25, follow this link.

If you want to read the whole story about Emma's fight against cervical cancer, see this week's Selby Times - which is on sale in local shops, on the app and can be ordered to post out.