The national cervical screening programme provides free smear tests ages 25-60. A smear test is a quick and simple procedure to test changes in the cells of the cervix.
Where do I start. Its such a personal and downbeat subject to discuss but awareness needs to be raised. I thought I would share my private and intimate story with you all especially as its World Cancer day.
#WeCanICan is the tagline for this years World Cancer day and marking the 10th anniversary of the global awareness campaign.
After having my beautiful baby Ava , I was requested to book a smear test with my doctor or nurse. I had just turned 26 in December and was always encouraged during that year of being 25 to get it done. My fear stopped me and I used the excuse of being pregnant to avoid it. Little did I know, you can actually receive a smear test after a certain amount of weeks.
After having my baby , most of my worries disappeared and I booked one as soon as. I got an appointment on the 22nd of December along with Ava’s appointment for her second lot of injections. Honestly, I was a little bit nervous and didn’t know what to expect. My nurse is always so friendly and we always have a nice chat. Before I know it I am up on the bed with my legs open and I stop her to ask “will this hurt?”. She smiles and replies “Laura, you just had a baby , noting will ever compare to that pain again. So I laid back with ease and felt a lot calmer than before. All of a sudden it was over and I couldn’t believe how quick the procedure was. I was anxious about this for so long for absolutely no reason. I was so glad it was over and done with.
A few weeks went by and I started to worry and get nervous about my results just as a letter came through my door. It was from the Rotunda hospital, an arranged appointment had been made for me in the Colposcopy clinic. The reason why I had to attend was because my smear result came back as abnormal showing borderline changes. I had a virus called HPV (Human Papillomavirus) I was afraid and nervous, what does this mean?
HPV infection is very common in Ireland and 70-80% will be infected at some stage of their life. There are over 100 types of HPV. In most cases, the infection lasts only a few months before it is cleared by the woman’s immune system. When it doesn’t go away it can cause health problems, essentially warts and cancer. Cancer often takes years to develop after a person gets HPV but you can do so many things to try to avoid it. By getting screened for cervical cancer often is one of them.
I met with the lovely doctor in the Colposcopy clinic before I was examined and she explained everything in so much detail. She reassured me that I was only at stage two and it shows borderline changes. If I was to not get screened in ten years and HPV stayed in my body then I would have cervical cancer. Relieved in such a way and my worries of being ill came to an end. As well as that she explained the procedure I would have to go through named a Colposcopy and also a cervical biopsy because of the abnormal cell changes.
Colposcopy is an examination that allows the doctor or nurse to see the type and area of the abnormality on your cervix. The Colposcopy is like a microscope so the cervix can be seen in more detail. I found this a bit uncomfortable but not painful in anyway. Colposcopy takes a bit longer than a smear, usually about ten minutes.
A cervical biopsy may be performed during the Colposcopy. It is the removal of a tiny sample of tissue from the cervix. The sample is then sent to the lab for examination and can provide additional information to decide if I need treatment.
This all just happened to me yesterday and is still so fresh in my mind. All of the midwives and nurses were so nice and made me feel very calm. High Satisfaction for the team at the clinic and the cervical check programme. I will receive my test results in 6-8 weeks and I hope everything comes back normal. Even though I was scared, worried and fearful of the unknown. Its over now and it was just a little bump in my life. Like everything else, you need to be strong and patient not only for yourself but also for your family who love and care.
To any woman out there, I urge you to get a smear test done. Whether you never have or have left it a few years. You just never know and not everything has symptoms you can diagnose yourself. Its quick, its free and it can save your worries and your extremely precious life.
World Cancer day and my day to learn so much on cervical Cancer.
Lots of Love ,