I’m so sorry I keep cancelling you. I received a letter
telling me to book and I just haven’t managed to find the time,
with work being so busy, then it was my best friend’s birthday,
I had a hair appointment,
I need to wax,
I didn’t want to look a mess in front of you…
Arranging through my GP always takes ages,
I am also a little afraid because of Covid,
it’s not that important, maybe I’ll wait
I suppose I should also share with you that I had a traumatic experience and I am super uncomfortable
in these situations,
I’ll be in touch to organise an appointment soon.
The smear test avoider x
Are you avoiding or putting off your smear test? What’s your ‘Dear Smear’ excuse?
With smear test uptake on an all -time low, it has never been a better time to draw our Uplifted readers’ attention to the important topic of smear tests. This is Jenny, the Editor of the Uplifted Magazine most recent experience.
Walking in to my doctor’s surgery, I subconsciously began running through a checklist of all the things I had, or mostly in my case, hadn’t done to prepare for my smear test. Shaved my legs? Nope. Wearing a presentable pair of knickers? Nope again… Can I cancel this and rearrange for when I’m more prepared? No, definitely not! It’s too important I told myself.
After just having a baby and now being a mother to three children, I don’t have as much time to groom myself in preparation for appointments like this and although I knew I would be self conscious in front of the nurse, this needed to happen. Rearranging was not an option.
Sometimes, understandably, life gets in the way or maybe you are just embarrassed about being half naked, perhaps there is a more traumatic experience that leaves it very difficult for you – whatever your reason, coming to a decision not to have your test could mean the life that you have come to know could change a whole lot for the worse. Worse still, you could lose it. Can you even consider that as a reality? This is pretty heavy stuff, but our health is a serious subject. According to Macmillan Cancer, 8 women are diagnosed every day with cervical cancer in the UK, with 3 women dying every day.
Staggeringly, cervical cancer is 98% preventable.
The scariest thing is that I am guilty of cancelling my smear tests. In the past I have delayed and rescheduled appointments and there was a time in my life when I didn’t realise how important a smear test really is. At 25, I was busy, I had just become a mother and didn’t ‘have time.’ I cringe now as I reflect back.
A smear test is totally free of charge and takes a matter of a few minutes. Nurses carry out the procedure and are very supportive. They are there to talk you through the whole experience and assist you with any questions or queries that you have.
“Don’t forget, it is your right to ask what you want.”
After the doctor’s receptionist checked me in, I sat in the waiting room and scanned the other people around me. My nurse announced my name and after a temperature check we walked to her room together and exchanged pleasantries. I immediately apologised for not being as prepared as I would have hoped on the grooming front and she reassured me “please do not worry about anything like that, it really doesn’t matter, what matters is that you are here today,” I immediately felt calmer.
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust:
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is a fantastic website, full of lots of useful information. The charity explains that the test checks for a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV) and also checks for cervical cell changes. This means that you can get care or treatment at an early stage should your results show that you require it. Currently the test is carried out for women aged 25 to 64 who are registered with a GP. Usually a letter is sent six months before turning 25 and you can book the appointment as soon you as you receive your letter. Following on from your first smear, you may be invited back for an appointment every year, every three years or every five years.
My nurse pulled across a curtain and asked me to undress from the waist down, to “hop” on to the bed an lay on my back with my knees up and legs slightly apart. There was a piece of large white tissue given to me, to place on top of my vagina and thighs so that the nurse had access just underneath it. I found this very helpful and made me feel less exposed. I never know where to place my arms. “Just relax” she said as she entered back through the curtain. I decided that above my head with the arms worked well, so that’s what I did.
Reassuring me, she said “I’m going to let you know what I am doing step by step. Just relax.” Turning on a light to be able to give her a clearer view, she then gently and slowly inserted the gel covered speculum in to my vagina. Admittedly there was a slightly uncomfortable moment when the nurse squeezed the speculum to widen the access to my cervix. She then brushed the cervix in a circular motion. It lasted all of a few seconds and then before I knew it, she told me it was all over and to get dressed. At this point I noticed I had odd socks on but she didn’t seem to mind at all!
I received a letter to say that there were not any signs of an abnormality, which is always a good thing and a relief, I can rest assured that I am up to date with this check and our amazing NHS service will let me know when I am next due a visit.
I often think, we have to make sure our cars have an MOT, services and checks. A smear test is doing the same thing for our bodies. Don’t delay or put it off anymore! Make the call today and arrange for your smear test appointment.
If you have any concerns or would like more advice, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust also offers a helpline and an amazing ‘ Ask an expert’ email option.
Helpline number: 0808 802 8000. Timings vary for the helpline but check the website for more information.