Monday, 26 January 2015

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week Janruary 25th - 31st #smearforsmear + My smear & colposcopy experience



The dreaded C word. Something which gets brushed under the carpet and hopefully something you never have to deal with. Until that one day when actually, you might have to deal with it later down the line and that's pretty thought provoking.  This blog is a fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog. I show you want i want to show you in my life and you make your own mind up about the rest. But after a lot of thought I've decided that sometimes intimate and personal things do need a platform to be spoken about, and thanks to you guys i have quite a big platform. So if just one of you goes for a smear test after reading this then I've done something right...

Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust is a charity for those who need information, support and friends for those dealing with cervical cancer. This week is cervical cancer prevention week and as it's a subject very real to me at the moment, it's something i want everyone to get involved with an support. Every day in the UK 8 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 3 women will lose their lives to the disease. Cervical cancer is largely preventable thanks to cervical screening and the HPV vaccination programme. However uptake of cervical screening is now going down year on year. Early detection is also key in increasing survival rates and so educating everyone on the disease, its symptoms and ways to prevent it is key. #SmearForSmear is a new public awareness campaign, #SmearForSmear is where you to take a lipstick smear selfie and post it on social media, nominate all your friends to do the same!  This way we can reach as many woman as possible and get the important message out there.

Smear Tests
Smear tests are something you should all of heard about, from the age of 25 (24 and a half now) you are advised to have a smear test, this is a method of detecting abnormal cells on the cervix. detecting and removing abnormal cervical cells can prevent cervical cancer. Cervical screening is not a test for cancer; it is a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix. Most women's test results show that everything is normal, but for around 1 in 20 women the test will show some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. Most of these changes will not lead to cervical cancer and the cells may go back to normal on their own. However, in some cases, the abnormal cells need to be removed so that they cannot become cancerous. It's possible for women of all ages to develop cervical cancer, although the condition mainly affects sexually active women between the ages of 30 and 45. The condition is very rare in women under 25.

So, what happens during the test?
The cervical screening test usually takes around five minutes to carry out. An instrument called a speculum will be gently inserted into your vagina to hold the walls of your vagina open so that your cervix is visible. A small soft brush will be used to take some cells from the surface of your cervix. The sample of cervical cells will then be sent to a laboratory and examined under a microscope to see whether there are any abnormal cells. Some women may find the procedure a bit uncomfortable or embarrassing, but for most women it is not painful. If the test picks up abnormalities in the cells in your cervix, it may be recommended that you have treatment to remove them, or further tests in a few months to see if they return to normal on their own.

When a colposcopy is needed
You may need a colposcopy after having a routine cervical screening test. Other reasons for having a colposcopy may include:
  • some of the cells in your cervical screening sample are abnormal (but not necessarily cancerous)
  • you are infected with human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the main cause of the abnormal cell changes and might lead to cancer
  • you've had several screening tests, but it wasn't possible to give you a result
  • the nurse or doctor who carried out your screening test thought your cervix didn't look as healthy as it should
A colposcopy can also be used to investigate things such as unexplained vaginal bleeding (for example, after sex) or an inflamed cervix.

What happens during a colposcopy?
The procedure is usually carried out in an outpatient hospital clinic by a specialist called a colposcopist. This can be a doctor or a specially trained nurse. You'll be asked to lie down in a special type of chair with padded supports to rest your legs on. A device called a speculum will be inserted into your vagina and gently opened to allow the colposcopist to examine your cervix. A microscope (colposcope) with a strong light will be used to look at your cervix. The colposcope doesn't enter the vagina and remains outside your body. If the colposcope has a camera attached to it, you may be able to see images of your cervix on a small screen. Some solutions will be applied to the cervix to highlight the abnormal areas. If any abnormal areas are identified, a small sample of tissue (a biopsy) may be removed for closer examination. A biopsy is similar to a small pinch or scratch in terms of sensation, and shouldn’t be too painful. The purpose of a biopsy is to confirm whether your screening test has been correct in identifying a problem. However, the colposcopist will sometimes be confident that the screening test has been correct without the need for a biopsy, and may decide to proceed immediately to treatment. The colposcopy procedure usually takes about five minutes, but it can take longer (10 to 15 minutes) if treatment is carried out. Overall, including the time it takes to discuss your problem with the colposcopist, your appointment should last 20 to 30 minutes.


My Story
Smear tests and anything cervical related seems to be all i can think about at the moment. Who would have thought a tiny bit of your body could take up so much of your thought process, but here i am. It was last March, a month before my 25th birthday I was invited to attend my first smear test. I had had my letter 5 months previous but in all honesty, i had put it off. I was starting to bleed after sex, during my periods and well, although i knew something was wrong, i was scared. I went, and the nurse knew something wasn't right, the doctor was called in and 5 minutes later he was writing to the gynecologist to get an emergency appointment for me. Two weeks later, i was in the gyno office being told that i have a mild cervical erosion and that my cervix is prone to infections. I was also told that i had cell changes from my smear test. I had to have a biopsy the next day just to determine how abnormal the cells and with a course of antibiotics my cervix should be better. Luckily, the cell changes were mild and i would only have to come back 6 months later for a follow up smear test. Unfortunately, due to lack of commutations from the doctors and hospital, i didn't have my follow up smear until December. I had my results on New Years Eve that i once again had cell changes, however these were moderate and i would once again need a biopsy. I had this done last Thursday (22nd) and i was meant to have the abnormal cells removed. However, the gynecologist didn't quite like what she saw, there could potentially be another infection from possibly where my biopsy didn't heal last time or just that damn sensitive cervix. She took 4 biopsies instead of just the one this time, just to make sure they're getting all the information and i should get the results in 3- 4 weeks. I find the smear tests and biopies incredibly painful, I've been told that the nerve endings in my cervix are over active and well, anything that shouldn't be there my body rejects. I feel incredibly sick, faint and recover time is a lot longer. Luckily, i keep seeing the same team of nurses and they know what happens and they're incredibly supportive and understanding. It's been 4 days now, and i'm still not feeling great. I'm still having cramps and bleeding heavily which can be a little worrying, but every woman is different so things effect others differently. Now i want to be as honest as i can and share my experience with you, but this doesn't mean it'll be the same for everyone so please don't let this put you off. I would much rather go through all of this and get whatever's going on down there sorted than ignore it and a few years down the line i have worst case scenario, cervical cancer. I am a little worried, i guess that's to be expected. But i'm on the right tracks to get this sorted and hopefully in a few months time i'll be back to healthy cells. 

If you haven't booked your smear test but are eligible for one, then please make an appointment as soon as possible. It's so important and could make such a difference to your future. Don't forget to share your #smearforsmear and get awareness raised! 


            
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9 comments

  1. Thank you for being so brave and sharing your story. This could save someone's life. I've been through the biopsy and colposcopy too and it was so scary. I'm fine now. I'm sure you will be too. Take care.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your story. I got my letter through a couple of weeks ago and will be booking my appointment as soon as possible. I hope all is well <3

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing your story Victoria. It took me a year to get round to going for my smear when I got the letter and I'm ashamed to say that I only got round to it when a girl at work shared her story with me that's very similar to yours. I'm sure because of your post there will be many 20 something girls calling their doctors this morning. I hope you get well soon, we're all behind you x

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  4. It's so great to read such an honest post, it's so important that we all go to our screenings and I really hope this will urge people who have been putting it off! Take care x

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  5. Very honest and informative post, well done! :)
    I had LLETZ treatment and have spoken about it a few times, even though it was slightly painful, and I have a tilted cervix it wasn't anything too painful for me, but everyone is different. Would much rather this discomfort than cancer. So important to raise awareness!

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  6. So important to share these stories and raise awareness. I lived in Scotland up until July last year, therefore I was able to have my first smear at age 20.. meaning I had my second smear (age 23) last year just before I moved to England & I am so glad I didn't put this off and moved to england as I would have had to wait until I was 25 for my second one and could have been a completely diff story. By going for my smear as soon as the letter came through and with the help of the lower age in Scotland I had my abnormal cells removed quickly and have since been for my 6 month checkup in england and everything is fine. The age should 100% be lowered to at least 21 I think. I hope your ok and try not to worry to much xx

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  7. I think you are incredibly brave to post about your personal experience on this topic. It is great that you are putting the subject out there and helping others to get their smears booked! Very strange that I was just this minute thinking about getting mine booked tomorrow and then I came across this post! Definitely a sign for me to go! :) Hope you are ok xxx

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Thank you so much for taking the time to comment XO

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