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.

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