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Working full time at a school and being a mummy to two young children, the arrival of the Easter Holidays was an exciting time. As we walked through the door that Wednesday, thrilled about having some time off, I saw the NHS envelope. "Oh, they're here...." I thought, and ripped open the letter ready to discard it. Being my fourth regular screening, I had no reason to worry, but then I stopped. The bottom half of the letter is what I saw first - the words 'colposcopy' and 'cancer screening' stood out at me. "WHAT??!"
The children bustled about, happy to be home whilst I retreated back to the car. What was this? Shocked and upset are emotions which then didn't even come close. Scared, yes, and confused mildly scratched the surface.
The result from my screening explained I had 'high grade dyskaryosis'. I was dazed. I'd never heard of the words dyskaryosis or colposcopy, and I knew nothing about CIN or an abnormal result. The following day threw me into more panic. I received a phone call to attend my colposcopy straight after the bank holiday weekend - in four days. I felt alienated and sick.
Along with support from family and friends, I came across the Jo's website. With a dedicated section to cervical abnormalities, I was quietly reassured but still nervous.
The Easter weekend came and went and before I knew it I was at my colposcopy. The consultant was amazing. She spoke to me continuosly throughout, and allowed my fiancee to stay the whole time. She examined me and asked me if it was ok to perform the LLETZ treatment there and then.
I won't lie, at this point I was a wreck, and my nerves had the better of me. However, the anaeasthetic went in and from that moment on I felt nothing, and I certaintly wasn't looking at the TV screen - the ceiling was the only place for me!
My main memory is the kindness of the two nurses. They held my hands, they stopped my legs jerking and they wiped my tears. They told me I was brave - they simply were the best.
Back in with the consultant she explained to us that she removed a large area of my cervix. She predicted the biopsy would confirm only pre-cancerous cells and I listened as she continued. No swimming or sex for four weeks.
As we left the hospital, I tried to absorb the events of the past six days. A week ago I had no concept of what was about to happen - I hadn't even recieved my cervical screening result. It was surreal.
The wait for the LLETZ result was mentally tough, especially four days after treatment when I fell ill with an infection. I'm so very lucky to have an incredible network of family and friends to rely on. The Jo's forum was full of women sharing similar experiences and this was immensely helpful to read.
When my result arrived, I took a deep breath. The histology confirmed "severe dyskaryosis amounting to CIN 3 removed with clear margins". I am to attend a follow up screening in six months time. It was over. I smiled and I felt blessed.
Running late out to work that day back in March meant I almost cancelled my screening appointment. I took for granted my previous regular screenings and their 'normal' results, thinking it wouldn't matter.
I take nothing for granted now. In three years I went from 'normal' to 'severe dyskaryosis'. The screening and treatment have prevented me potentially from something much worse. For other women this isn't the case, and it is for those who don't attend or who are overdue reading this I am urging to please go.