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I got my cervical screening (smear test) invitation in the post a few months before turning 25. I wasn’t necessarily nervous because I knew a few people who’d had theirs already who assured me it wasn’t a big deal, but it’s not knowing what to expect, isn’t it?
My friends were right; the appointment was so quick. The nurse and I spoke for a few minutes and she explained everything I needed to know.
Then, I was out of the surgery and got on with my day with no cramps or bleeding.
My nurse said she thought it’d take about 8 weeks for my test results to come back, because of the backlog after Covid, so I didn’t really think about it for a couple of months. After 9 weeks, I thought I’d give them a call to see if they had an update.
The update: I was HPV positive and it had caused cell changes in my cervix, so I’d have to go to the hospital for further tests and maybe even surgery. I had no idea what this meant. Did I have cancer? Would I get it? But I had my HPV jab in school? My mind was just running away with me.
1. HPV and cell changes are not cancer.
2. HPV is super common, 8 out of 10 people will get it at some point in their lives.
3. I was in the best possible position because I’d got my cervical screening straight away so they could catch any signs early, and they did.
My nurse told me about Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust where I could find information about the next steps. I looked on YouTube to see if anyone had made a video about their own experience but was surprised at the lack of content. It’s easy to feel like everyone’s cervical screening must come back fine and you’re abnormal, but once you speak to other people about it, everyone knows someone with a similar story.
I was invited to the hospital for my colposcopy appointment where the doctor took a closer look at my cervix, a bit like a follow-up smear test.
They use a camera for this part, but you don’t have to look at the screen (I’m too squeamish for that). The results confirmed I’d need to have surgery to remove the cells that had changed.
I’d read a bit about LLETZ surgery and it didn’t sound fun (I’ll leave it to you to research yourself) but, obviously, I wanted anything abnormal out of my body, so I was happy to do whatever. I brought my mam with me this time which I was glad about because she held my hand the entire time. I’m not going to lie, this part was really uncomfortable because you have to be numbed before the procedure. I don’t know if anyone’s ever had a needle in their cervix before but you can probably imagine what it’s like. It’s worth it though because I didn’t really feel anything after that.
About 6 months later, I was invited back to the doctor for a follow-up. This was another cervical screening, so I wasn’t even nervous this time (I’d had a lot worse). A few weeks later I got a letter to say I was no longer HPV positive, so I had no risk of more cell changes, and the changed cells had all gone. The relief was unreal. I’ll go back to the doctor in a few years’ time for a cervical screening.