This week is Cervical Cancer Prevention week and to mark this I’m joining in with Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust‘s #SmearForSmear campaign. I also thought that I would share my own cervical screening story with you all, in the hope that it will encourage people to attend their smear tests.
To join in with the #SmearForSmear campaign simply put on your lipstick, smear it across your face and take a selfie. Then post your photo on social media using the #SmearForSmear hashtag and encourage others to join in too.
I had my very first smear test at age 25, the test itself was fine and wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I had expected it to be. The first problem came when my results showed that I had HPV (human papilloma virus), I had never heard of this and as I had no idea what it was, I panicked.
I went straight to see my GP who put my mind at rest and assured me that HPV is extremely common and as I had no abnormal cell changes at this point, I had nothing to be concerned about. HPV is something that school girls are now vaccinated against which is fantastic, but of course was introduced too late for me.
Because of the presence of HPV on my cervix I was asked to go back for another smear test in a year, rather than the usual three years. This time though, there were some low grade cell changes so I was referred for a colposcopy. I was super nervous before the colposcopy but for me it was absolutely fine and not painful at all. Luckily the colposcopy showed that I did not need treatment and they would see me again in six months for another colposcopy.
I went into my next colposcopy appointment feeling pretty confident that everything would be ok, just like it was last time. But unfortunately my results showed high grade cell changes, graded as CIN 3. Abnormal cell changes are graded as either CIN 1, 2 or 3 before it becomes the early stages of cervical cancer. So mine was pretty bad at this point and in all honesty I was terrified.
I had to go back a few weeks later for treatment. The treatment is called LLETZ (large loop excision of the transformation zone) and involves using a heated wire to remove the abnormal cells under local anaesthetic. I was scared because I didn’t know anyone who had been through this and had read horror stories online about how painful the procedure is and how difficult the recovery can be.
Thankfully, I found the LLETZ procedure painless and it was all over in about 15 minutes. I didn’t experience any bleeding at all for the first week and then only minimal bleeding after that. I know that everyones experience is different but for me it was fine and I would urge anyone that is going through this to try not to worry and definitely don’t google!
Six months after my treatment I was back to the GP’s for a follow up smear test. Again I was nervous and just kept thinking what if I needed treatment again? What if it had gotten worse? I received my results within two weeks and I was all clear! No abnormal cells and no HPV! It was such a relief for it all to be over finally.
It’s now been a year since I got my results so I still have another two years to wait until my next screening. I am pretty nervous about this as three years is a heck of a long time, especially for someone who has already had abnormal cell changes. So I’m now considering paying for a private test, and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve done this too.
Have you been through similar? If you’ve had LLETZ treatment, how did you find it? I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading.