Oh that was very dramatic wasn’t it? At the beginning of September, I went for my first smear test and I wrote a post about it, which you can read here. This post went down really well and I spoke to lots of bloggery women about theirs; some who have had many and some who haven’t been for one yet. I was thrilled to be a part of the bigger voice that will help women be more open and honest about smear tests which in turn will hopefully, encourage more women to go and get theirs.
So anyway, I went for mine on 1st September and after the examination nerves were over and done with, it was time to get nervous about receiving my results. Obviously waiting for any type of results is nerve wracking but I was told it could take up to 4 weeks so I went about my life post smear test and even went away on a inpromptu weekend break with my boyfriend’s family – smear test results well in the back of my mind.
It had been 3 weeks since my test when I went away so I wasn’t too concerned about the results by this point. I figured if they’d found something bad they would have contacted me sooner and the test went so well (I mean, no smear test is a fun experience but as medical examinations go, mine was as good as good could be) that I was highly doubtful the results would be anything but normal.
I got back from holiday and there were a few letters sitting on my bed. Two looked like bank statements so I ignored them but one was quite thick so hoping it was an invite to a nice, expensive blog events, I ripped it open and found an appointment letter which had been made for me to attend another test called a colposcopy. They found low-grade dyskaryosis – which is abnormal cell changes and a HPV infection. Great.
It’s safe to say I was absolutely gutted and I got so upset thinking that I had ruined what could have been a lovely end to our holiday. I re-read my letter over and over again to make sure what I was reading was correct and alas, it was. That taught me to be so naive about my own body and health.
Now thankfully I had another doctors appointment 2 days after I opened my results with the same doctor who did my initial smear so I took my letters along with me and asked her to go through it. She explained that what I have is quite common and there is a huge spectrum of cervical changes between what is considered “normal” and cervical cancer. And along this spectrum things can move and change on their own.
She also explained that HPV is very common and anyone who is sexually active at any point in their life can get it from someone else. Again, that can present itself and disappear of its own accord. She completely put my mind at ease and said that she’s quite confident that with my condition, it’ll be sorted very efficiently at my colposcopy and she’s never seen anyone with low grade dyskaryosis to go on to have any serious problems after treatment (in some cases) in the whole time she’s worked at the surgery.
Since I had my first smear, I’ve been so open and honest about my experience and trying to educate people and encourage someone to go and get theirs who might be too nervous to go. I like to think I’ve become a bit of an advocate for them. But now this has happened, I feel even more passionate about getting people to get their smears. If I hadn’t have got mine and been sent for further tests, it could have got worse and worse.
So… in my first post I shared some tips for nervous first timers. Now it’s time to share some tips for if your smear doesn’t come back with the result you want.
1. Don’t panic. You’re not going to open your letter and be told you have cancer. That’s not how it works.
2. Read through everything thoroughly. They often send booklets about the examinations you have to have to give you more details. Read them.
3. Make an appointment with the doctor who did your test and ask her to explain everything more thoroughly if you feel that will help.
4. Don’t read horror stories on forums. Everyone’s experiences are entirely different.
5. Rings Jo’s Trust (if you’re in the U.K.) if you feel like you need to speak to someone about how you’re feeling. Their number is: 0808 802 8000
6. Remember that it’s okay to be upset / nervous / worried / sad about your results. Your feelings are valid and nobody can tell you otherwise.
7. If you get super nervous about hospital appointments (like me), your doctor may be able to prescribe you Valium or beta blockers for them if they feel it’s right for you.