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When I turned 25 I booked my first smear straight away. My results came back in around five days which was quite alarming and the letter read that I would need to make an urgent hospital referral due to an abnormal result. I went for a colposcopy examination shortly after and was diagnosed with CIN3 (pre-cancerous cells of the cervix at a high grade level, also known as severe dyskaryosis). Whilst I was having the colposcopy examination I was originally advised that treatment could be performed there and then under a local anaesthetic, however after a more thorough observation, the pre-cancerous cells covered a large area of my cervix and it was decided it would be better and more comfortable for me to receive the LLETZ treatment under general anaesthetic. I under went treatment at the hospital two weeks later.
I was advised not to partake in any strenous exercise for around six weeks and to avoid any heavy lifting and sexual intercourse whilst I was healing. I was fortunate that the bleeding and discharge was fairly minimal, however it did last for 6 weeks. The discomfort was similar to period cramps and only lasted a day or two and was manageable with normal pain killers.
I received the treatment on a Friday, which meant I had the weekend to recover, however by the Monday I felt I still needed a couple of days to feel better and was able to be signed off until the Wednesday. I had spoken to my boss in advance of the procedure in case I needed time off, and I would highly recommend speaking to your boss/colleagues so you don't have the worry of doing it over the phone afterwards if needs be.
I waited patiently for my letter to confirm whether they had removed all of the pre-cancerous cells or whether I would need further treatment. This was a very anxious time and, although no news is good news, I was desperate to hear from the hospital. I received my letter four weeks later confirming that they were confident that they had removed all of the cells but I would need to return to the hospital six months later for another colposcopy.
The time passed quite quickly and I tried to put any negative thoughts to the back of my mind. Six months later I was back at the hospital where a 'white' area was still showing and there were concerns that they may not have removed all of the cells. They took a sample and sent me home and I awaited the good news; the area was due to healing and could be scar tissue. Due to my having high grade cell changes I was fortunate enough to be entitled to a relatively new test; HPV testing. These tests, which look for the Human Papillomavirus which causes 99.7% of all cervical cancers, came back negative to my relief. As a result, I was told I would be able to go back to the normal screening frequency – every three years.
I feel incredibly lucky that I didn't have cervical cancer, and it made me consider all the women who are less fortunate. That is why last year I trekked the Himalayas to raise money for Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust raising over £4400.00 for the charity. Jo's was a fantastic resource for me when I needed support and advice, and I owe it to all the other women affected out there to support them as much as I can.
Please donate now and help Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust reach and support more women like Harriett.
Call our free helpline now on 0808 802 8000.
Have a chat with our trained helpliners to get your questions answered. Get information on HPV, cervical screening, the HPV vaccine, cell changes (abnormal cells) or cervical cancer. No question is too big or too small.