Christmas is over for another year. 2015 is almost at an end and - as is usual with the time of year - I’m in a rather reflective mood. I’ve been struggling with how to approach the subject of this post for some time, but I’ve seen a lot of bloggers posting about their recent Christmas gifts, so I thought I’d tell you about mine…
On the last postage day before Christmas, I received a letter with the news I had been hoping for – after 3 years, the results of my smear test were finally normal! This sounds like a pretty simple thing, but my life feels like it has been on hold for almost three years, since right after my son was born.
At first, I went for my usual cervical screening appointment and I was told minor changes had been detected. I was assured that this was not uncommon after giving birth and that I should continue to have smear tests, just more regularly (every 6 months). Sometimes these minor abnormalities can disappear without treatment, but this has to be monitored to ensure there is no further development of abnormal cells.
Unfortunately, my abnormal cells did not disappear by themselves. After several repeat examinations, I received a letter saying ‘changes have been detected that require further investigation.’ I had been referred to the gynaecology department of the local hospital.
The doctor I saw was a wonderfully cheerful man who gently informed me that, if I didn’t have treatment to remove the abnormalities, I had a high possibility of developing cancer within the next four years! I didn’t know what to say, cervical cancer affects older women, not those in their mid-twenties! But then I thought about all the sad stories I've seen on Facebook – of young lives cut short – and I think myself lucky that I live in Scotland, where cervical screening is offered to all women above the age of 20.
I was scheduled for colposcopy treatment. Simply put, this involved the friendly male doctor examining my girly bits with a large bright light and cutting away the offending cells from my cervix, all the while talking to me about the lovely weather and asking about my holiday plans! He was also joined by an equally friendly junior male doctor who was being forced to watch this cell harvest, but informed me that this was not his first choice of speciality, and he’d much rather be in cardio – you and me both pal!
I was told I would feel like crap for the rest of the day, and I shouldn’t do any heavy lifting for the rest of the week, but my results would be available in a few weeks and I would likely only require a repeat smear. Eight months and one smear test later, my results are finally normal again!
So when I think about the greatest gift I received this year, the relief after coming to the end of this experience is what dominates my mind. I was spoiled by my family, as usual, but I can now relax knowing that such a simple test has prevented me from developing cancer at an early stage in my life.
For those of you overdue a smear test, please book one now! For those of you waiting for colposcopy treatment, I hope this post has been helpful, but here is a post from another blogger that I wish I could have read before my treatment.
Don’t be frightened, and don’t put it off, a few moments of discomfort really do save lives!