A Kingston nurse has more than doubled her fundraising target as she prepares to run the Brighton Marathon on Sunday April 15 in support of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.
Catherine King, 39, a colposcopy nurse at Kingston Hospital, will be running her first ever marathon to raise awareness of cervical cancer.
She set a target of £500, yet has already raised more than £1,000.
Catherine said: “I turn 40 in July and one of the goals I had in my life was to run a marathon.
“For me being able to run for them, I can give a little bit back. They do incredible work.
“The thought of eradicating cervical cancer one day is like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and something that these donations can work towards.”
Attendance at cervical cancer screenings is at a 20-year low with only 67.2% of women in Kingston Upon Thames taking up their invitation for a screening.
Catherine said: “The big worry is for the women who are not attending their screening, these are the women who are most at risk.”
Cervical cancer is the most common form of cancer affecting women aged 35 and under, and is caused by human papilloma virus (HPV) which can lead to abnormal changes to the cells of the cervix.
Around 220,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical abnormalities each year and of those women, 3,200 are diagnosed with cervical cancer with a further 890 women losing their lives to the disease.
Catherine believes the decline in attendance is due to women feeling embarrassed and also the lack of time.
She said: “I think there is a fear of the smear for sure, and there is just a little bit of embarrassment as well.
“It is a really quick [procedure], it shouldn’t be painful and it can really save your life.”
Currently women aged 25 to 49 are invited for a screening every three years and women aged 50-64 are invited every 5 years.
For girls aged 11-18 years old, the NHS programme offers a HPV vaccination.
In 25 to 49 year olds, 75% of cervical cancers can be prevented if women attend their screening.
Catherine’s advice to young women who have received their invitation for a test would be to not delay their screening.
She said: “ It is really important and actually the screening you are eligible for is part of one of the best screening programmes in the world.
“Phone your local GP practice, book your appointment and get that smear done. Hopefully then you can tell your friends and your family it really wasn’t that bad and spread the word.”
She added: “If you are scared or unsure about attending then contact Jo’s as they provide a lot of information and support which can really help.”
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is the only charity in the UK supporting women with the disease, and Catherine was introduced to the Trust through her work with colposcopy.
Robert Music, chief executive of Jo’s Trust said: “I am delighted that Catherine has set herself this impressive challenge for Jo’s.
“Catherine knows first-hand the impact cervical abnormalities or a cervical cancer diagnosis has on women and their families and is a fantastic supporter of ours.
“It is our vision that cervical cancer will be a disease of the past and it will be through the enthusiasm and dedication of our amazing supporters like Catherine that will help us to get there.”
Catherine has balanced her day job with training and credits her progress to following a plan.
She said: “Training has kind of taken over but I’m really fortunate.
“My husband did the London Marathon in 2014 and he has been super supportive.”
She added: “I attend Bounce which is an amazing trampoline class and I have been trying to do a lot of different exercises like swimming alongside the running.”
Catherine revealed that she recently reached 20 miles despite the Beast From East, and is excited about running the Brighton marathon.
She said: “I did my longest run and it was snowing and it was windy but I’ve actually really enjoyed it and I’ve always liked running.”
She said: “I will be running with four other Jo’s Trust runners so between us we will raise a good amount of money and get around the course.
“I have never run competitively so I am looking forward to running with all the other marathon runners who are doing it for their own cause.”
Catherine’s aim is to cross the finish line and to see her children who she says will keep her going.
She said: “To be honest, the support has been pretty overwhelming and is incredible. Everyone is totally behind me.
“Having worked in this area for so long it is really nice to be able to do something that is going to help other women going forward.”