Friday, 17 April 2015

No Fear, Go Smear!

Hi Everyone!
This post is a bit different from my usual fashion and beauty posts that I put on here. It's from more of a personal angle but something that's really close to my heart and i feel needs to be addressed.
In October 2013 I went for a routine smear test. I go for a smear test every three years and have since I hit the age limit of which smears are mandatory in this country. This is 25 years old currently. Unfortunately, my smear test was due when I was 7 months pregnant with my beautiful daughter Lucie, and as a result couldn't attend as pregnant women aren't allowed a smear test, nor are you allowed one until 6 months after baby has arrived. Like usual I turned up, had my smear test, which is nothing more than a slight bit uncomfortable, and went home and waited on tenterhooks for the results. Naively, I thought my results would come back clear like they had always done. Little did I know I'd be in for a bit of a shock.
My results finally arrived and I opened the letter and knew instantly something was wrong by how thick the envelope felt. Normally when you receive the letter from your doctor it's just a piece of paper saying your results came back clear. The envelope I had in my hands was very much padded out. I literally burst into tears there and then. All sorts of thoughts were running through my mind and I instantly felt sick at the thought of reading the letter. I opened it and I had a leaflet staring me back in the face that said Cervical Cancer The Facts. I'm sure you can imagine the sheer panic that ran through me. Am I going to die? Omg it's cancer. That sort of thing. I eventually, after the initial shock, got round to reading the leaflet and it basically went through all the preventative procedures for each symptom. Not as scary as what the front of the leaflet lead me to believe.  
I had what is called CIN 3 cells, which are also known as high grade dyskaryosis, which is severe cervical abnormalities. The statistic for changes in cells in women is around 1 in 20 women who go for a smear test. There are three levels of CIN cells and this is to determine how much of the cervix is effected by the pre cancerous cells.
CIN1 – indicates mild changes; affecting only one-third of the thickness of the surface layer of the cervix. These changes are not cancer, and in most cases do not lead to cancer in the future.

CIN2 – indicates moderate changes; affecting two-thirds of the thickness of the surface layer of the cervix.

CIN3 – indicates more severe changes (not cancer); affecting the full thickness of the surface layer of the cervix.
I was asked to go for a Colposcopy / Lletz Treatment at my local women's unit at Nottingham City Hospital where they tried to remove the cells. I then again waited on my results and thankfully these came back clear. The colposcopy was done under a local anaesthetic and was slightly uncomfortable but worth it for getting the cells removed.  
If anyone is due a colposcopy or would like more information you can visit the NHS website HERE

Although these cell changes are not cancer yet, they are pre cancerous and can develop in the future, should they not be treated. The screening is in place to PREVENT cancer and ultimately save you from contracting it. It literally saves your life when caught soon enough. I class myself as really lucky that we have this kind of service in the UK. Without it, who knows what the outcome may have been. I've been left in the situation that that much of my cervix was removed, should I have another child I'd be at risk of miscarrying as I wouldn't be able to carry the baby as normal.
Statistics show that one in four women don't go for their smear test when they're invited to go for one by their GP. Far too frequently i am seeing girls that are saying they're 'putting off' going for a smear test. I'm unsure as to why girls don't go for treatment. It actually baffles me. Your health is paramount. The age limit of cervical screening is something that also needs to be looked at as you see far too many people being diagnosed with cervical cancer at a young age. Please respect yourself and your body by going for a smear test. It lasts under two minutes and although it can be uncomfortable, it can also save your life.

If I can be blunt. The thought of dropping my knickers for a stranger didn't exactly thrill me. But if I'm honest I'd rather be healthy than worry about dropping my knickers for a professional nurse. Overall I think girls worry about getting their vagina's out as it's such a personal area for someone to be poking about in. You'll be asked a few general questions by the nurse before she will ask you to remove your lower clothing and pop onto the bed. This is the part where you actually start to panic as you can be unsure, if you've not had a smear before, as to what's about to happen. It's literally pain free. I cannot stress that enough to you. It may be slightly uncomfortable or a bit embarrassing, depending on what kind of person you are, But it's totally worth it. Remember a nurse doesn't care what your vagina looks like. She sees them all day every day. So if that's what you're worried about I wouldn't bother! The nurse is probably desensitised to vagina's.
I've had a few of my friends come to me for advice for when they've received similar results to mine and i feel thankful that i can help by listening and advising somewhat. I'm in no way a professional when it comes to this matter. I'm just a small percentage of people in which a abnormal smear has effected.
If you have a smear pending and are putting it off. PLEASE ring your doctor and book yourself in.
I hope everyone takes a positive from this rather personal post and goes for their smear without fear!

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