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I wanted to share my experience in the hope of reassuring others that are going through the same.
I was called for my first smear test just after my 25th birthday, and went for it straight away. The nurse explained something to me about abnormal results, but it went in one ear and out the other. Of course my results would be fine, I'm 25 years old! So, that was that. Didn't give it a second thought.
About a week later, on a Saturday morning, I picked up the post from the doormat and opened an NHS letter. "The results of your smear test have shown high grade dyskaryosis. It is unlikely you have cancer but..."
Well, I broke down. I couldn't believe what I was reading. My partner was very supportive but I was convinced I had cancer and I was a gonner. I tried to pull myself together but that weekend was a rollercoaster of sobbing then putting on a brave face, then sobbing again. I phoned for a colposcopy appointment first thing on Monday morning but was told the soonest they could get me in was in 2 weeks. I was gutted - I expected to be in within a few days. I asked them for cancellations, even tried to go private (which would have cost almost £1000!), but in the end had to resign myself to waiting. And there's no doubt, the waiting is the worst part. The first few days were hell. I managed to resist googling for a few days but eventually I gave in. The first thing I came to was a case study on Jo's Trust about a 25 year old girl, the same as me, who had cervical cancer. Yes, they removed it, no further treatment needed, and now she's absolutely fine, but at the time I just found myself in a blind panic.The more I googled, the more worried I became. I made an appointment with a nurse at my doctor's surgery hoping for some reassurance. They confirmed that I had severe dyskaryosis (which was news to me, as the letter only said 'high grade'), but she did help to reassure me somewhat. I would recommend a visit to your GP or nurse if you are really worrying. If nothing else, they may be able to phone the clinic and get you in a bit sooner if you are struggling to wait. The couple of days right before the colposcopy were the worst, I think because I was preparing myself for bad news. I wasn't too worried about the actual procedure, just the news that would come after. In fact, the night before the colposcopy I almost bought a book from Amazon on how to cure cancer through nutrition...!
The day of the colposcopy came and off we went to the hospital. The consultant was lovely; he really put me at ease. He said "ok, you do know it's not cancer that's been found on your smear?". I said "I know it could be cancer". He looked at me like I was a bit loopy and said "Ok, maybe a 1% chance". Well, from what I had read online, I thought it was more like 20%, based on the fact that severe dysksaryosis is apparently so rare, so that was good to hear! They left me to remove my pants and climb onto this very undignified chair with stirrups... ok, it's not nice. But of course I was covered with a sheet and do you know what, they see this every day, several times. They use a speculum, much like the smear, and apply some kind of iodine solution to show up the abnormal cells. It didnt hurt at all. He said "there's nothing here that looks like cancer". I was so relieved to hear those words. He injected the local anaesthetic, which I must admit, did sting a bit. But it certainly wasn't unbearable. He then did a LLETZ or Loop Excision which I didn't really feel. The whole thing only took about 5 or 10 minutes, then off I went!
That was 10 days ago. I have had some discharge and slight bleeding, but no pain. Maybe some very very mild period pains on the evening after the procedure. I got a letter a few days ago asking me to go back for a follow up smear in 6 months. I'm still waiting for the letter to confirm what they removed, but I'm not concerned about that, since he said it didnt look like cancer, and whatever it was, he removed it. The nurse told me that generally they would be able to see cancer on the smear, and you would be called back QUICKLY to investigate further. But even if this happens, it's still no guarantee it's cancer. Plus, in cases of cervical cancer that are found in the early stages, around 90% are completely cured. Most cases of cervical cancer are found in people that have NEVER been for a smear, or haven't been for a long time.
This has turned into a long-winded post, so sorry about that, but I hope this reassures someone. I was so worried because it was my first smear; who knows how long my cells have been abnormal for? Would it have already turned into cancer? I think it's normal to think like this, but the fact is, it's still rare in people aged 25 and under. The internet would have you believe that high grade dyskaryosis is very uncommon, but you only have to ask around to realise this is not the case. Plenty of people have been through this, and the vast vast majority of the time, it's easy peasy to get rid of.
Best wishes :o)