This is a very new subject for me to be writing about, but one I feel is extremely worthy of my writing time and your reading time. Having known a couple of people close to me who have had cervical cancer, I was very quick to accept my invitation to GynaeCheck UK‘s most recent event about their target 100,000 campaign.
The most interesting part of the event was hearing about all the other blogger’s experiences with their smear tests and how it made them feel. Maybe I’m a bit of an oddball, as it really never phased me. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t get my letter from the doctors just before my 25th birthday and skip over to the phone to book in my appointment with glee, but at the same time I didn’t stress about it. In my eyes, it was a routine thing, that had to be done, so I was went along with it.
I can totally see why so many people put it off or just never book the appointment at all, but you really have to look at it from the point of view that this is 10 minutes of your life, which yes, might be a little uncomfortable, but could ultimately save your life. That’s no small fact right there… having your cervical cancer screenings regularly could be the difference of life and death. I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s true and needs to be said. Despite our nationwide cervical cancer screening programme that has been in place since the 1980s, only 66% of younger women and 80% of older women attend screenings, which just isn’t enough. This is a free NHS service, which gives 90% of women under the age of 40 a chance of survival when cervical cancer is detected early.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The smear test experience itself isn’t a joyful one, but it’s over within minutes and you’ll feel so relieved afterwards. It might not be worth asking your mum about her experience, as things have changed a lot over the years. Your doctor will now use a plastic mechanism (much nicer word than ‘clamp’!), so you’ll no longer have to deal with the cold metal. I wouldn’t usually go into much more detail about something to do with our lady parts, but this is important, so here goes… Once your legs are akimbo and you’ve been, how shall we put this, opened up, the doctor will then insert a soft brush to collect a sample, which is then sent to be tested. It really is as simple as that, and nothing to worry about.
For those of you who are still thinking “shut up Cat, I just can’t face it” then we went to the GynaeCheck event to learn of another solution. They have created a DIY kit that you can do in the comfort of your own bathroom, so there’s no excuse to not get tested. GynaeCheck only tests for HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), but seeing as HPV is the cause of 99.7% of cervical cancers, it’s doing a pretty good job!
To find out how GynaeCheck works, head over to the GynaeCheck website to learn more. Watch this video to see GynaeCheck in action. If you’re worried about any abnormalities, please do get in touch with your doctor as soon as possible, but if you’re embarrassed then contact Jo’s Trust, who are a charity specialising in helping women with cervical cancer. I met the ladies from Jo’s Trust at the event and they were so lovely and willing to answer any questions at all, no matter how silly you might think it is.