Cervical cancer and smear tests, or as they are now called ‘Cervical screening tests’ are a hot topic of conversation at the moment as Theresa May agreed to look into lowering the age limit for screening after the recent tragic deaths of Amber Rose Cliff and Donna Lowe.
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35 .
Amber Rose Cliff of Sunderland began to have concerning symptoms age 18 and requested a smear test 20 times and was refused each time due to her age. When she was 21 she paid to have a cervical screening test done privately and received the awful news that she had cervical cancer. She fought the disease for four years before she died early last year at only 25 years old.
Donna Lowe from Milton Keynes postponed her appointment and in December 2016 Doctors told her the tragic news that she had cervical cancer. Donna passed away age 32 and left a loving partner and four young children.
One of my friends lost her sister when she was in her 30’s leaving a young daughter behind. I saw the devastation that happened after she died. It was heartbreaking. Her daughter now lives with my friend, her aunty, and is thriving. But she will miss her mum everyday and I can’t imagine how hard that is for a child. My friend does all she can to rise awareness and funding for charities like the Eve Appeal
Cervical screening tests can prevent 75% of cervical cancers saving on average 5000 women each year in the UK.
5 million women are invited for the testing each year and one of four of these women don’t get the test done. This figure rises to one in three in the age range of 25 to 29 years old.
There are a number of reasons women don’t attend, embarrassment is a huge reason.
Us women are born worriers so we tend to over think every situation and before you know it your cancelling your cervical screening test because your concerned the nurse will be horrified by the appearance of your lady parts, or that heaven forbid, she sees you without your underwear one, but if we stop and think for a second, I’m guessing none of us have anything she hasn’t seen before!
I’m the biggest prude when it comes to this sort of thing but when I developed bad hips and sacroiliac joint problems it was the actual position you have to be in for the test that become my biggest concern. It just isn’t something I can do without being in a lot of pain and sometimes it’s just not possible at all. Until then I never considered how disabled women get these sorts of tests.
So I cancelled my appointment. Pushed it to the back of my mind and put the reminder letters in the bin, out of sight out of mind. Until I saw the nurse for something else and she spotted the notes on the system about my test being overdue, busted, caught red-handed it was hard to make excuses to her face to face.
So I told her the truth, there wasn’t really much point trying to fib my way out of it. I told her about my hip problems and my fears.
Before I knew it she’d got out of her seat and was demonstrating alternative ways she could do the test without it hurting my hips so much. She told me she’d book me a double appointment so I wasn’t pressured and feeling rushed. I was still a bit concerned until she came out with something I will never forget, she said ‘If all else fails I shall get John (one of the GP’s) to help me, he never fails to get it in!’ We looked at each other and burst out laughing, she apologised but it really broke the ice so to speak and a few days later I had my cervical screening test with ease and very little discomfort.
There is currently a campaign to raise awareness called #SmearForSmear which involves smearing lipstick across your face and putting it photo on social media with a message to get the message out there that’s cervical screening test can save your life. Here’s a few celebs photos and mine too!
If there are any circumstances or reasons you are concerned about getting the screening test then my advice to you is make an appointment to meet your nurse in advance to talk through your worries.
Ask to have a double appointment to reduce any rushing you may feel.
Lastly I’d urge you to always book your screening test when that reminder comes through your door because you never know when your life will depend on it.