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In 2016, I was a full-time police officer. I’m also a mum and at the same time was setting up my own business: a hair and beauty salon which I opened in the March. Needless to say, life was very hectic! It had been about 8 years since I last attended cervical screening (a smear test). My shifts would often change meaning I would have to cancel appointments, and so it was very easy to put it off.
At Jo’s, we receive calls to our Helpline every single day from women who have had a cervical screening or colposcopy result they weren’t expecting. Lots are confused, many are scared and others simply do not understand what it all means.
This is why for Cervical Screening Awareness Week we’re talking about cell changes.
I guess everyone has familiar thoughts which come to mind when one is en route to a cervical screening appointment.
I bet they range from the mundane – “will the room be cold?” - To – “it’s fantastic the NHS offers the chance to have cervical screening free of charge”.
I imagine that a small, but significant group of women will walk through the door as I often did thinking – what am I doing to say when they ask that question.
You might have seen recently in the news that there is going to be a pilot scheme in London looking at the best way to offer self-sampling to women as part of the cervical screening programme. We know that lots of people have questions about self-sampling and about this pilot, so hopefully the below will help.
Today in parliament, MPs debate the age at which the cervical screening (a smear test) programme begins. The debate is taking place because of a petition which was created by Natasha Sale and gathered over 160,000 signatures. Natasha Sale was diagnosed with cervical cancer at age 28 and very sadly passed away at the age of 31.
Natasha’s story is incredibly sad. We are thinking of her family and friends who have had to go through this.
Smear tests can be difficult for a variety of reasons, but some women can face additional barriers to getting tested. This includes women with a range of physical disabilities such as muscular dystrophy or multiple sclerosis. While in some areas women are able to access smear tests, whether through home visits, equipped GPs or provision to attend in other settings such hospitals, this is unequal across the county and mean some women are missing out on tests that could potentially save their lives.