It was just after I turned 25 when I received the letter asking me to book my first smear test.
At that time I was expecting Ava and understood you couldn’t have one while pregnant so I tossed the letter away and didn’t think much more of it.
I got a second letter shortly after Ava was born but a few people had told me a woman should wait six months after having a baby to get a smear. I don’t know if this is definitely true or not but it was an excuse to put it off a bit longer. I had just had a baby and didn’t want anyone poking around my nether regions for a while yet.
Six months passed, then a year on top of that.
I am genuinely embarrassed and ashamed as I write this. My family and friends would bring it up and be shocked I hadn’t had my smear test yet and lecture me to book it ASAP. I knew it was important but I had the ‘yeah yeah, I have been busy, I’ll book it next week‘ attitude. I think I was secretly quite petrified of what to expect, worried it would be painful and to be perfectly honest, I was being lazy and living in my own little dream world.
Last August, I came across a blog post by written by Charlotte from TheHomeThatMadeMe, about her terrifying experience with abnormal smear results and going under General Anaesthetic to have the cells removed. Thankfully, she is absolutely fine. As I finished reading her post, everything was suddenly brought down to earth and it made me realise what a complete and utter di** I had been. I immediately called my Doctors Surgery and booked myself in with the Nurse for two weeks time.
The day of the Smear test came. I was pretty nervous but I can’t even tell you how straight-forward it was. The nurse was absolutely lovely and although the procedure was slightly uncomfortable, it wasn’t painful in the slightest. Ten minutes later I walked out the surgery and couldn’t believe I had worried so much, that was easy!
My results came in the post a week later and it sounds weird, but I just had a feeling there would be a problem. I was so annoyed at myself that I had put it off for just over two years and although I didn’t expect the worst, I felt karma may teach me a little lesson.
Unfortunately, I was right.
The letter explained that I had severe dyskaryosis (high grade abnormal cells) which they call CIN3 (this means the abnormal cells have an extremely high chance of turning into Cancer) and I had been booked in for a colposcopy at my local hospital in ten days time.
I remember sitting on the stairs, just before I took my son to school and going over and over the pages. I was holding back the tears and it felt like I was in some kind of terrible dream. I was absolutely gutted and confused to what it all meant. I called my Mum and my best friend and they both reassured me it would be OK and was really common to get an abnormal result. Outwardly, I was positive and tried not to show any fear but on the inside I was completely bricking it and thought of nothing else.
My lovely friend Becci came with me to the colposcopy and let’s just say, it wasn’t the most enjoyable day of my life. I was taken into a bright theatre room full of around ten members of staff including the surgeon. I had to strip off from the waist down, lay flat on the hospital bed and hoist my legs up into stirrups, not one of my finest moments!
A a tiny camera (a colposcope) was inserted into my cervix so they could have a better look at what was going on. On the TV screen next to me you could see EVERYTHING. I had a quick glance but turned away and closed my eyes, seeing your insides that close up is really NOT a pretty sight and gave me all the wrong kind of feels. Becci was quite happy, she sat at my head end watching the screen and found it all really interesting, I joked to her she had seen more of me than anyone!
The surgeon found a lump and he seemed quite relieved as he explained they were quite common and could be removed easily and sent off for a biopsy. They then injected me internally with local anaesthetic (which BLOODY HURT) and performed a LLETZ procedure. This is where they use a small wire loop with an electrical current running through it to cut away the affected area and also seal the wound at the same time. I was so glad when it was over and couldn’t have got myself out of that room any quicker, I don’t even think I had zipped up my jeans properly.
After weeks of painful cramps, bleeding and a long sex ban from the Doctor (poor Dan) I had a phone call from the surgeon who confirmed the biopsy was fine and all the cells had been removed. I can’t even describe how happy and relieved I was.
Many women are NOT so lucky and thousands are told they have developed cervical cancer every single day. The statistics and stories I have read are utterly devastating.
Smear tests are there to prevent this cancer by detecting any early cell changes and I have learnt the hard way how ridiculously important it is to keep up to date with them. I simply can’t praise the NHS enough and the service I received throughout this time was incredible.
It makes me sick to my stomach to think how long my cells were high grade and what would have happened if I had delayed it any longer.
Are you up to date with your smear test?
If not, please please do not be a di** like myself, pick up the phone and book it TODAY.
Til Next Time,