Don’t Forget Your Smear Test!
I originally wrote this post a few months ago but have held back on publishing it due to its highly personal nature. A few moments ago though, I heard a very worrying statistic that one in every three women are not going for their smear tests. The second I heard this I knew that it was the right time to hit the publish button. Even if I help just one person avoid cervical cancer then it is worth sharing my story.
If there is one thing that us ladies all dread it is our smear test. Even the word itself makes you grimace as you say it – ‘smear’. It sounds miserable and it is.
Why on earth would we want to lay on a cold hard uncomfortable doctors couch with our legs spread revealing our most intimate bits to a nurse we don’t know from Adam only to have her shove a cold hard object up us which ranges from a bit uncomfortable to down round painful.
But the cold hard facts are that the smear test saved my life. It is almost 12 years ago to the day since I received the letter we all dread following our smear test. I remember sitting at the bottom of my stairs reading the letter over and over again telling me that my recent smear test had shown some cell abnormalities and I needed to go to hospital for a colposcopy (a detailed examination of the cervix.) This showed me to have CIN 3, in other words severe cell changes. They decided to treat me there and then. I had a large loop excision under local anaesthetic in which the abnormal tissue was removed. I then had to wait two agonising weeks to find out if the cells had in fact already become cancerous. CIN 3 cells don’t automatically lead to cancer but I was told that my abnormal cells were very severe so of course, I feared the worst.
Thankfully for me, I was one of the lucky ones. My abnormal cells had successfully been removed and we had caught them in time. I did not have cervical cancer. My relief was immense.
We get a letter through the post reminding us every three years to book our smear test but how many of us actually remember to make this appointment? Who is guilty of putting the letter to one side promising themselves that they will deal with it ‘later’? We are very good at making appointments for our kids when they have to have a routine check up for something but when it comes to ourselves we are not always on the ball.
I often think of what would have happened to me had I not gone for my smear test when I did. I had regularly had my smear every three years since my late teens. This smear test was no later than it should have been. It was bang on my three year due date. Had I left it another month, another week, even another few days, I dread to think what may have happened.
So please, if there is one thing you do for yourself this year, book your smear test when it is due. Don’t put the reminder letter to one side to deal with when you have more time. Make that phone call and get it in the diary. It could save your life.
Please share this to help all the women in your life. It could be your mum, your daughter, your sister, your friend. Please jog their memory to make this very important appointment. There is no doubt in my mind that the smear test saved my life and it could save yours too.