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Cervical screening: it's better to know

Thursday, September 21, 2017


I find it curious the tasks that keep our lives on track are often the most mundane. Taxes, WOFs, bills, all of these are essential in order to have stress and pain-free lives. Yet, I meet them with sighs and reluctance. I joyously welcomed the arrival of direct debit and automatic bookings so I don’t have to bother with such tiresome things anymore.

I admit, I felt this way about my cervical screenings, too. Until recently, that is.

Yes, making a booking can be annoying. Yes, arranging time off work can be tricky. But is it important? Yes, an absolute resounding Yes.

My nurse is actually someone I know. Someone I respect and admire very much. They ask if I am alright with them seeing me, I truthfully say I don’t mind. Being squeamish and embarrassed left me a long time ago, but I know I’m one of the lucky ones.

The screening isn’t exactly what I would call pain. I would say it is an alien discomfort that makes me twinge, the feeling of something defiantly unusual happening to me.

It is over quickly.

“You’re bleeding a bit, so here’s a pad.”

A pad. How odd, I haven’t used one of these in years. It feels bulky and weird after so long.

I turn to see my blood on the paper lining the bed. It is bright red and I inappropriately think I’d like it as a lipstick colour.

I dress and leave. Aside from a slight waddle I’ve acquired from the pad, there is no lasting effect from the smear.

Now a week has passed.

“You’ve got some abnormal cells,” the nurse says.

I’m taken aback, there’s a strained pause.

“Oh, uh, okay.”

“We’ll arrange another screening next year to see if they’ve gone. That happens.”

“Oh, okay.”

Goodbyes are said and I hang up.

‘Oh, okay.’ Very small words after a procedure that now seems mountainous in comparison.

I’ve done my research, I know I’m most likely going to be fine. It’s scary though.

What if it’s not fine? What if it doesn’t go away? What if it gets worse?

I know one thing for sure, I’m glad that I know. I’m glad I have to think about this. I’m glad that my already pencilled-in appointment will have more understanding behind what cervical screenings are. I’m glad I will know what questions to ask, what answers will indicate good health, and which ones not. I’m glad I will be prepared.

Get screened. Be healthy. And if it doesn’t go quite as expected, then know you did well by putting your health first. Identifying an issue is the first step to recovery after all.

- Anonymous, 29

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