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During our 20th year, we’re speaking to people who have been supporting us throughout the years. Marianne Wood is a Colposcopy Clinical Nurse Specialist in London. She also gives her time to our Helpline and Ask the Expert services.
I have been supporting Jo’s for many years whilst working as a colposcopy nurse in the NHS. I began my career as a Practice Nurse in a GP, and moved into hospitals soon after.
I give Jo’s information out to my patients, which explains the procedures and treatments that happen in colposcopy, and what happens next. The information also signposts to the Jo’s Helpline and website, letting patients know that extra support is available as it’s not always possible to cover everything during the appointment. When I first began working in colposcopy, a few hospitals were tentative about having Jo’s information in there due to the association with cancer but they do so much across every area of cancer and prevention, so they really are the go to organisation. Today this is no longer the case which is great because information from Jo’s helps to support the clinic as well as the patient.
I myself volunteer on the Jo’s Helpline and have done for many years. In my clinic, I am the one who has to sort a problem out. On the Helpline, it’s not for me to do the sorting out, it’s the caller. I just help them to find out how. I’m the one who can help them to the next day, or to say “oh right, yes I will ring the doctor tomorrow!” It’s the unhurried time I can give to the caller, letting them know that it’s all at their pace and they can take their time, whatever time of day it is, which makes the Helpline experience unique and special.
It amazes me how a 10 minute call can transform their mindset. Callers often go from being anxious and scared to feeling empowered because I’ve helped to give them the information they need or pointed them in the right direction. Sometimes, someone just needs to know you are listening. It’s also lovely hearing feedback at the end of a call and knowing that I’ve made a difference. Recently, a caller told me that she just wanted to hug me, so we had a hug over the phone!
I also give my time to the Ask the Expert service, where I can be the Colposcopist again and share my knowledge. We get lots of questions about HPV – more recently, increasing numbers have concerns about how it’s passed on between partners in relationships.
More and more advances within my field keep happening – the spatulas of old were replaced with nice soft brushes in 2008 which made a massive difference to the patient’s experience. In 2012 the move to HPV triage was another huge change for our workforce and meant that people who were more likely to develop cervical cancer were more easily discovered.
In the future, I look forward to more and more being understood about HPV in my work and in the general public, especially with the move to HPV primary testing coming up. I know that Jo’s will continue to bust myths and stigma around it and I am happy to be a part of that. It feels great to be working in an area which keeps changing and getting better and better with time – by the time I retire, I’ll be able to do so with a light heart!
I have loved every minute of the training we get with Jo’s. It has been an amazing gift being taught how to listen more carefully and I have definitely seen the impact on my work. It has definitely made me a better person and a more effective nurse. I look forward to seeing what advances the next 20 years will bring and how many more healthcare professionals and patients alike can benefit.
If you'd like to volunteer for Jo's, take a look at the opportunities available >