The internet has given us easy access to be part of big changes, the recent selfie craze is just one example. But I’m not going to dwell on charity today. With a variety of websites set up for members of the public to officially share their protests worldwide, it’s more accessible than ever to voice issues and rally for support. For me, there’s nothing like a good petition or protest; any opportunity to raise concerns or be part of a much needed change should be grasped with both hands! And so, when a petition started being shared across my Facebook newsfeed yesterday, I thought I’d have a look to see what it was all about!
Sophie Jones, a 19 year-old cervical cancer sufferer, tragically died last Saturday. Being denied a smear test by her doctor after months of stomach pain, due to the age restriction of 25, contributed to this; she was not diagnosed quickly enough and therefore treatment came too late. Sophie’s Choice is the online e-petition created as a result of Sophie’s devastating story, urging the smear test age to be lowered to 16 years old. Of course, I thought ‘why the hell not?’, and began filling out the e-petition form –
When I decided to stop.
I realised I had no true, in depth knowledge of the case – only the biased and emotive response of the family plugging the petition and articles that supported such a perspective. Much like many causes with an underlining current of emotions, the petition appears to have gone viral across social media, reaching national news headlines a day after posting. I can’t help but wonder how many people, out of the hundreds of thousands of petitioners, have gathered the facts before signing something that could implement any amount of change to our nationally run systems.
Stumbling across this article, my mind was changed completely. Knowledge has always been and will always be power, especially in protesting. It dawned on me that I didn’t know the procedure’s science; smear tests have been proven to be useless at detecting cancer development in women under the age of 25 due to cell changes still occurring in the cervix. This bears the mandatory testing in younger women as an unnecessary and painful process to put them (including myself) through. If it was more direct to the real issue with the health department – that treatment should be given based on symptoms not age restrictions – I would still jump to signing. But amidst emotion, the right question has, unfortunately, been lost.
So, please, I urge you all – before being swayed by emotional pleas or an entire friend’s list of shares – to look at the facts. Whilst you may feel that what you’re doing is for the best when you’re first seduced by a tragic story, in reality it could be pointless or harmful, or it may be that a completely different issue needs fighting.