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Wednesday, 15 June 2016

WHY DO I NEED A SMEAR TEST?

A blog post on the importance of going for a smear test, raising awareness and becoming an ambassador for Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust.

A blog post on the importance of going for a smear test, raising awareness and becoming an ambassador for Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust.




On Wonderful You, I like to talk about vagina’s.

Not in some weird, inappropriate, creepy way - but y’know, just chat about them. Because for some reason we all feel it’s a bit of a taboo subject.

‘Did she just say vagina?!’

‘She can’t have, that’s not very ladylike, is it?’

Except, DUH, it totally is. Because we’re ladies and we have vaginas.

We were given the amazing ability to push little babies out of them - our bodies were made to create another human life and so it’s obvious that we should want to look after them as best we can, right?

Apparently not.

Because we’re all absolutely petrified (or nonchalant) about going for a smear test.

What even is a smear test, anyway and why do I need one? I asked myself the same question.

It’s a process that involves a nurse taking a sample of cells from your cervix, that will later be tested under a microscope to test for any abnormalities that could later turn in to cancer. Sounds kinda gross, huh?

But did you know that Cervical Screening prevents 75% of cervical cancers developing in the UK, yet 1 in 4 women do not attend cervical screening when invited? And around 3,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with Cervical Cancer each year.

That is crazy high figures.

And I don’t want to be all preachy and act like I know it all, because, well I was in the same boat too.

I've spoken a lot about my experience on various channels, but let me give you some background just in-case.

I received my first invitation (pah, like it was a date for afternoon tea with the Queen or something) for Cervical Screening on my 25th birthday and I ignored it for a year. Like I was invincible or it didn’t really matter. Except it really, really did.

When I eventually attended, it wasn't half as bad as I imagined. It's a little embarrassing and doesn't feel good, but honestly, it's absolutely worth the cringing for the peace of mind you'll get afterwards.
My smear test came back a few weeks later with abnormal results - and the letter I received from the NHS scared the absolute crap out of me. I had HPV and Dyskaryosis, which at the time meant absolutely nothing to me except for the sirens ringing in my head saying to me ‘Well, Megan, you’re basically dead’. The clinical sheet of paper wasn't comforting, lets put it that way - and it would’ve been easy to throw the piece of paper away and forget I’d ever seen it. But I knew that having taken the steps to actually go and have the smear test, I needed to follow this up - it would’ve been foolish to do anything less. Those cold, impersonal words the NHS used, meant I basically had a bit of a virus and some abnormal cells they needed to investigate. I found that out through google and discovering Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust - a charity that provide information you can understand. It wasn’t actually as awful as the words the NHS used made it sound.

I had a biopsy for further tests to check exactly what was going on, which was a little invasive and quite full-on for a Monday morning, but was over before I knew it. I left with an achy tummy but a hopeful heart.
The results took a couple of weeks and when I returned from my pre-booked holiday there they were waiting for me, a nice little welcome home gift from the vagina police.

It wasn’t great news. I had pretty advanced abnormal cells that required a procedure called LLETZ to remove them - they’d give me local anaesthetic and use a thin, low-voltage electrified wire loop to cut out the abnormal tissue. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared, I mean that sentence is enough to turn anyones stomach, no? But I wanted to be better and I certainly didn’t want to leave it to get worse. I attended on the date they’d given me and with my bare legs strapped high in the stirrups and iodine sprayed on my cervical wall I was told ‘NOPE’.

Apparently the biopsy hadn’t shown just how advanced my abnormal cells were, and that actually I’d need an operation with general anaesthetic to remove them instead.

I was sick to my stomach with worry, but everything went smoothly - recovery was longwinded and painful but 100% worth it.

And just a few months ago I went for my follow up smear, to see if they’d captured all the bad cells.

THEY HAD.

I had the all clear - which meant my next smear test would be in 3 years time; and that I was, essentially, healthy.

So, I had a few weeks of my life feeling a bit shitty, but those few weeks prevented me getting cancer - they literally saved my life.

I’m not here to make light of the fact that smear tests and what could come after them aren’t hella scary. Of course they are - and everyone’s experience is unique.

But what I am here to say is, that going for one, being uncomfortable and embarrassed for that little timeframe is so worth it. Because it's basically a matter of life or death and I know which team I wanna be on. It's so important to remember you’re not alone, we’re all in this together ladies - and it’s something we should all be taking more time to talk about.

If I hadn’t attended mine, this story could be written very differently. Perhaps I wouldn’t even be writing it at all.

So please, don’t put it off, book yours today.

As Winnie the Pooh once said: You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

And that’s why I’m so excited to share today’s post with you - I think, actually, it’s the most excited I’ve been to share anything on Wonderful You.

Because Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust have asked me to be an official Ambassador for them.

They are the only UK charity dedicated to Cervical Cancer and provide a hub of information, emotional support and a 24 hour service. I’ve taken advantage of their helpline to talk through worries post-op, used their forums to see what other women are experiencing and read through their brochures to understand my body better. It goes without saying then, that it is the greatest honour to be apart of what this amazing organisation does for women. I'm sat here pinching myself, because I can't quite believe that I get to be involved with something so wonderful.

I’ll be helping to raise money, attending events hosted by Jo’s and hopefully raising lots more awareness, too. Keep your eyes peeled for other projects we have coming your way, ladies. It’s going to be a really exciting journey.

And you can help spread the word, too.

This week, 13th-19th June, is Cervical Screening Awareness Week. There are so many ways to contribute in raising awareness - you could display or distribute information wherever feels right, the women’s toilets at work, at university or in your GP surgery. You could organise an event to fundraise or share your story, too.

What an exciting time to be alive. To be celebrated for being open and honest about our bodies. To feel proud to do so.
Together, lets help change those crappy statistics, lets see every woman attend her smear test and get the treatment she needs and deserves. 

Because it just goes to show, doesn’t it? That being vulnerable and brave with ourselves can be so rewarding - in more ways than one.

And I owe all my thanks to my vagina, she's given me an opportunity to have a voice, even if she did give me a bit of a hard time in the process ;-)
A blog post on the importance of going for a smear test, raising awareness and becoming an ambassador for Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust.

A blog post on the importance of going for a smear test, raising awareness and becoming an ambassador for Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust.






To get involved, you can download marketing material here or order them here

Alternatively, catch Jo’s team here:

Tel: 020 7250 8311 or email: info@jostrust.org.uk

Photography be the absolutely amazing Alexandra Cameron.


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12 comments:

Shannon Baker said...

You beautiful thing you! <3
That's such a horrible thing to go through but I'm so glad you're in the clear x
Stay strong and beautiful xx

www.shanylou.co.uk

Cassie @ Pretty-Science said...

Yes girl! Sorry you had to go through that. I am only 21, but I had to have smear tests from about the age of 16 due to some small issues, nothing like what you went through. I was so embarrassed the first time but I literally couldn't care less anymore, so unlike most of my friends, I am not terrified of getting that letter! I had to have a lump removed from my boob this year as well, so I would also stress the importance of checking those carefully ;)

Anyway, excellent post, I will keep my eyes peeled <3

Sophie Carter said...

Bless you, you had a bit of a crappy time didn't you.
I had my first one this year, (I put it off for about 6 months!) and honestly, it was nowhere near as scary or uncomfortable as I thought it would be. I was panicking about it hurting, but literally didnt feel a thing! x

Ashley Christabelle said...

Stunning post and photography. Really glad that you're okay now! You're brave to have gone along the process. :)

www.ashrealasitgets.blogspot.com

justbreathesite said...

To start off what BEAUTIFUL photos in this post! Honestly babes you are stunning! On to the post, its about time I have read a post on cervical screening so honest that includes how important it is. Its so sad that in England you have to wait till 25 to get your first smear test. I live in Scotland and we start from 21, I have had 2 so far. Just a simple in and out within 5 minutes, always helps if you have a chatty nurse. And that's it. It can save your life. Fab post!!

JustBreathe
https://justbreathesite.wordpress.com/

Becky | @accooohtrements said...

I work for Cancer Research UK so this feels so important to me. I've had 2 smears so far and both have been fine (thank god) but thank you for sharing your experience of the other side of this.

You're 100% right: this screening process SAVES LIVES.

Smears can't honestly be described as pleasant but the actual screening process takes literally 10 seconds so a) that 'all clear' letter feels amazing to receive, or b) you can find out things aren't quite right before it's too late to do anything about it.

Elizabeth Sellers said...

Thank you so much for sharing this AND for the reminder that I'm super later on getting my next check-up.

I am part of the age group who received their first smear test at 21 years old, so I've had a few and for me they've almost all being quite traumatic and a bit of butchering. But you're right, as a matter of life or death it's so worth getting the test regularly.

Thank you for talking about vagina's. The more it is normalised to talk about the better off we will all be. In all kinds of ways. But that might be a wider discussion for another day.
x

Shona Mary said...

Thanks for writing this post, hearing about your experience with abnormal cells as a young woman has made me certain that I'm going to go for my smear test when I hit 25 xx

Sara Chergui said...

You look incredibly gorgeous ! You came such a long way, I'm happy to see you feel beautiful and confident ! :)

Sara
www.thecrimeofashion.com

Lauren Britton Loves said...

Congrats on becoming an ambassador! I honestly would have had a smear test two years ago if I could, I'd rather not wait for 25 and would rather know what's going on down there!

Lauren x
Britton Loves | Lifestyle Beauty Wellbeing

Lauren Maria said...

Here here, woman need I get on with this can save this life. I had to get the wire hoop thing, not ice so can imagine how horrid your op was. Congrats on being an ambassador!
Lauren
livinginaboxx | bloglovin

Sunshine Sarah said...

I read this post before but didn't comment! Fantastic post and your photos are incredible!! :O :O It is definitely a life-saver for sure and women should be able to go and have a smear without all this fear surrounding it! 8-)
Congratulations on becoming an Ambassador Megs, that's wonderful news.
Sarah
www.writingrambling.co.uk

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