#SmearForSmear | 22nd-28th January is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, and the theme this year is ‘Reduce Your Risk’. This is my story of my experience
In all the years I have been blogging I have wrote a post about this subject 3 previous times but I have never posted them, until now. This is my story of my experience with abnormal cells and now I feel ready to share the experience.
There is one simple answer to ‘Reduce Your Risk’ which is make sure you keep up to date with your smear tests and knowing the symptoms. Cervical Cancer can be prevented and you can reduce your risk by calling your local surgery and booking in.
When I was pregnant with Josie, I became friends with a girl from Nottingham who was also pregnant but with her second child. We met on a forum page on facebook about our babies being due in August. There was three of us that started chatting and comparing our pregnancies. All three of us had girls within a few weeks of each other. I was actually due first but gave birth last out of us. We even met up around the girls 1st birthdays. Sadly three years later in 2012, she lost her life to cervical cancer, leaving behind two small children and husband.
This made me think about the smear test reminder that came through a few months previously, and in November 2012 booked in for my smear. It is one of those things that you mean to book, but taking the time to do this can be an inconvenience, but it can also save your life. I was told I would have the results back in a few weeks. I was surprised when they came back in less than a week, and in shock to see I had abnormal pre-cancerous cells which if left untreated can result in cervical cancer. Even now writing this, I remember the worry, the feeling of not knowing what was going to happen.
Just under two weeks later I went to the Colposcopy Unit at our local hospital. The colposcopy showed I had CIN 1 -Mild Changes. During the colposcopy I found this very invasive, as any one would but was put at ease by the team. You see your cervix on the screen as they insert the camera. I was shown where the abnormal cells was located and you could see a mild whiter change from the rest. A biopsy was took and then quaterized which was similar to period pain. The Nurse was very friendly and throughout my time I always saw the same nurse. She confirmed the cells wasn’t cancerous and explained about if left untreated they can form into cancerous cells. I was checked for the HPV Virus which was clear around this time.
I was asked to go back again to keep an eye on these changes and maybe we would look at a LLETZ treatment, which involves burning the cells away. To cut a long story short I had this go on every 6 months until in June 2014 I went for my colposcopy and by this time I even knew the routine, cough when they take the biopsy etc. This time before the nurse even said I could see how different the cells looked. She said it looked like it has got worse, and to prepare for a Cone Biopsy. She had sent the biopsy and met with the consultants to discuss my results which was done each time to confirm the treatment plan. The results come back and as the Nurse thought the changes had gone to CIN 3 -Severe changes which is called High Grade Dyskaryosis, treatment was needed soon as the time for the cells changing to cancerous had halved. Within 2 weeks I was having my operation to have a cone biopsy. This is were a section of your cervix is removed to ensure the cells are no longer there.
After the operation the consultant explained they removed the cells successfully and I had lost a large part of my cervix. The Consultant stated we can have a baby but advised after the 6 month smear test to check if all clear. I did get the all clear and had a few compl;citations with delivery, mainly due to incompetence on the ward previously. It was noticed during labour that I couldn’t dilate due to scarring and on the second consultant trying, she was able to stretch the cervix and I went straight from 0.5cm to 8cm dilated. I had been having the urge to push and at 0.5cm dilated which was where Rowan wanted to come but couldn’t. I managed to give birth naturally and Rowan was absolutely fine.
The recovery was 2 weeks of me being bed bound, I also had issues with bad side effects to one of the tablets and getting numerous infections. Plus being bed bound and on your own was hard as I was feeling sorry for myself. Antony and mum was excellent helping with Josie and if I needed anything. The pain was bad for a week or so and similar to after having a baby. Again I was worrying of another 6 month wait, and then was when I realised how much the previous 2 years since I first received the letter had taken a toll on myself. That smear 6 months on was the longest wait for the results it seemed, I was ecstatic the results was clear.
Even now this still plays a part in my life. You still worry, I had my 3 year smear check in December since the all clear, which was the beginning of December. It wasn’t until after Christmas that I found I had the all clear this time. I was over the moon at the results as the same feelings previously had come flooding back. Panicking each time the post arrives, worrying over Christmas. In between the 3 year check, every year around December I used to think 2 years to go, next year to go. I am glad this is out the way and I don’t think I will be as bad worrying in the lead up to the next one, well not yearly. But it is the waiting game that is extremely difficult. Either way the best thing to do is get yourself checked. I am so thankful I did, and that even after the not so pleasant experience and long time waiting, the fact of knowing if these cells were left they could have resulted in cervical cancer is overwhelming. I am in the statistic of reducing the chance of having cervical cancer by 95% since having treatment. It is important that I keep up my routine checks, for anyone this is important. Even if you have not had any symptoms, which I hadn’t, you still need to get checked.
I cannot stress enough how important this is to have your smear and also look on Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust as they state the further symptoms to keep an eye out for. I hope one day they lower the smear test ages from minimum 25 years old as this is such an important preventive test. Please go ahead and book in for that smear, yes it is not the most pleasant procedure, but it can save your life. I know I was extremely lucky and there is a huge number who suffer from cervical cancer which is much worse than pre cancerous cells, but I wanted to share my story of how this can hopefully be prevented and hope it will encourage yourselves to book in if you haven’t already.