Claire's story

ClaireWhen Jade Goody was diagnosed, my mum asked me when I had attended my last smear test. I replied it was only a couple of months overdue but in the end it turned out it was a couple of years overdue.

A smear test is never a pleasant thing to have done, but I do understand now what it means not to have one done. Living in Grantham and commuting to London, I thought I was too busy, and too tired. I kept putting it off, and so the months built up. I kept receiving letters, and just kept thinking, I'd ring them tomorrow. Admitting to this today, I feel embarrassed.

But after so many years and my mum's encouragement I finally went for a smear test again and it was on my 30th birthday that I received a voicemail from my doctor asking me to call them back. I gave them a call and the receptionist told me I needed to come in and speak to the doctor. I told her I couldn't take more time off work as I'd just taken a day off for my birthday. At the time it just didn't register how important this all was. My doctor eventually called me and said I had to come in for a biopsy and I think that's when I realised how serious this was.

I went in for a biopsy to assess my cervix and was then called back for a loop excision to remove the abnormal cells, which in itself was a fairly painless and quick procedure. All these appointments meant I had to take more time off work. I originally booked it as holiday but when I explained to my boss why I needed the holiday he ripped up the holiday request. I now feel that whilst it can be difficult to talk about such intimate procedures, it's important to notify people at work because the procedure often has a few days' recovery time.

After I had the loop excision I actually went back to work the next day, but I had understimated the emotional and physical impact of the treatment. I experienced a bit of bleeding and I was also doing a four hour train commute which was very uncomfortable. Emotionally, it just hit me how lucky I was that it wasn't cancer and that they were able to remove the abnormal cells. The stupidity of leaving it that long until I finally went for a smear test also boiled to the surface at that point.

I have been checked every year since and I'm now just about to go back to the three-yearly screening frequency, which I'm happy about and I'm now very vocal about the whole experience and the importance of screening. 

Read more stories from women affected by cervical abnormalities

Last Updated: 
Thursday, 8 May, 2014