Why you should go for your smear test

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A couple of months ago I received my letter, you know the one, the one that makes your stomach turn and your shoulders drop; it was time for my smear test. I always put it off. I wait weeks before booking my appointment and do all I can to avoid going to the doctors. But after recent events I will be more vigilant about having my smear tests and I'm about to tell you why you should go for your smear test.





The letter


So, as I said I booked in for my smear. The thing with the smear isn't the fact that I've got to have someone poke around my private parts, when you have children the whole dignity thing disappears, it's more about being uncomfortable. On more than one occasion I've laid with the speculum in place for more than 10 minutes and, well, let's just say it's not nice. I always dread the smear test just in case that happens again.

But let's get back to the story, I went for my test and all was okay. The nurse did her thing and it was over in no time. Job done. Breathe a sigh of relief. 

She mentioned me receiving a letter soon, but if I hadn't heard anything in 3 weeks to get back in touch.

Three weeks to the day later a letter arrived in the post and even now, as I write about that letter, my stomach is turning. It is THE WORST letter I have ever received. 

Out of the blue.
A complete blow.

I was blindsided. 



Abnormal cells...

Follow up appointment...

Tears blurred my vision, panic struck.

Luckily the Hubby was around and we talked about it, Googled specific words like "high-grade dyskariosis" and read the leaflet that arrived with the letter. 

Googling something usually doesn't help, it can leave you feeling like you're going to die, but this time it did help. I learned that the chances were good and that even if I did happen to have something wrong the chances of it turning into Cervical Cancer were low.

I spoke to my mum, who told me she went through the same thing years ago. I spoke to friends who said the same. It seems it's not uncommon and I wasn't alone. 





The wait


In the end I had to wait three weeks between receiving the letter and going for the appointment. Even after talking to friends and my mum it was still a troubling few weeks. I did okay, I managed to wrap myself in work and luckily the boys were off school so that kept my mind off it too. 





  • If you want to conquer fear, don't sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. 

Dale Carnegie





The day before the appointment my nerves began, not because I was worried about the outcome but because I was worried about the procedure. The morning of the appointment I had to get LP ready for school so I didn't have time to be worried. Thank goodness!





The appointment


Arriving at the hospital was fine, I had to drive myself because there was no one other than the Hubby to take LP to school, but it was fine. I told myself it would be over in no time.

I walked in and took a seat in the waiting area. It wasn't long before I was called and spoke to the Consultant who explained what would happen. She told me that if they found the abnormal cells they could cut them out while I was there and asked if I wanted them to do that. Well, duh! Of course I said yes.

She then showed me to a changing room where I had to get undressed and put on a gown. I was then taken into the procedure room.





The treatment


The colposcopy was fine, apart from an issue with a speculum breaking (!) the inspection went okay. Once she'd finished looking through the microscope she said they would go ahead and do the treatment. And that's when the pain began. 

It wasn't excruciating pain, it was like severe period pain. First I had to be given a local anaesthetic and I could feel the poking and prodding. Unpleasant but bearable. The odd poke hurt and made me cry out, it was difficult not to. I also noted that the anaesthetic made my legs shake, quite a lot. The nurse warned me about it beforehand and tried to chat and make me feel better. It helped a little but what with the nerves and then the poking, I was feeling rather exposed. 

The procedure itself was over in no time, I felt a little heat and towards the end a sharp pain but other than that it was fine. Well, as fine as you can be with your legs in the air having had a speculum in place for about 20 minutes! 





Afterwards


Straight after the procedure I was good, I took a moment to let my legs stop shaking and then went back to the changing room. I was happy to get my jeans back on and walking into the resting room was good. I got a cup of tea and a minute to rest while the Consultant told me about aftercare.





Driving home


It wasn't until I was driving home that I started to feel uncomfortable. Like period pain but very strong. The drive home was difficult, bumps in the road hurt and changing gear made the pain a lot worse. 




If you happen to be going for this procedure I would highly recommend going with someone so you don't have to drive. 

In the afternoon I took pain killers that didn't help much and spent the day on my bottom. I barely moved. Luckily I'd planned for that and had a great plan for dinner!





The moral of the story


Okay so that was a long winded story, I know, but here's the thing, if you go for your smear test and they find abnormal cells they can do something about it. Having abnormal cells found doesn't mean you have cancer, it just means you need to be checked. When they know what kind of abnormal cells you have they can then take action, for me it was the LLETZ treatment. 

If you ignore your smear test reminder and don't get checked those abnormal cells will continue to grow and mutate. Abnormal cell results on your smear test are a warning, it means that if it's left it could grow into cancer. It DOES NOT MEAN you have cancer.

While going for a smear test is uncomfortable, embarrassing, annoying, it is also necessary. 

The Doctor told me that 98% of cases of cases that have treatment go on to have normal smear test results after the treatment. The treatment is successful in 4 out of 5 women. During the procedure the Doctor also said that around 60% of women in the local area don't go for their smear test. 

I was surprised. While receiving the letter telling me about my abnormal cells was a shock and it has been a worrying few weeks I have now had the procedure and there is nothing else to worry about. I am on the road to recovery and should be back to normal in about 6 weeks.





  • A smear test lasts 5 minutes. The impact of cervical cancer lasts a life time.






Ladies GO FOR YOUR SMEAR TEST!!

If they find something they can treat it, but they have to find it first. Don't put it off because you'll be uncomfortable or embarrassed. 

Please, when you're sent that letter get booked in for your smear test, don't put it off, don't ignore it. 

2 comments:

  1. It is more common than you think. Well
    Done for sharing your story! Regular smear tests are so important. They do save lives. So glad you are OK!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Catie. I was surprised to learn that most women I know have been through it. But it is SO important to go for the smear test, I dread to think what would've happened if I'd ignored my reminder.

      Delete

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