27/04/2016

I got my smear test invite and completely freaked - an open and honest confession

Last weekend I received the 'invitation' to my first cervical cancer screening test - a smear, to you and me.  I don't like to call it an invitation, because an invitation is something you get to something fun - like a party or a wedding - not to have an invasive 'procedure' at my GP's office.



I got my letter  at the weekend.  So many thoughts ran through my head when I first opened it.  The first?  I'm not 25 yet.

"It's ok," I thought.  "I don't need to go yet, it's another six months until I'm 25 so I can just wait until then."

No, Natalie.  No.

All the stories I have written at work about the importance of a smear test for young women and those people out there campaigning so hard to get the age limit lowered to allow younger girls access to a smear, and there I was about to put it off for six months.  I was so angry at myself.

I was even thinking of excuses to get out of it.

"If I ring and book an appointment they will see I am not 25 yet so will tell me to ring back, so there's no point," I told myself.  "It must just be a mistake, I must check they have my date of birth right next time I go to the doctors."

As soon as Monday morning came around, and the mad rush to get an appointment at the doctors subsided, I rang and made my appointment for my smear test next week.  As soon as that, I was amazed!

Of course, I am nervous about it - I imagine it is going to be quite uncomfortable.  But that discomfort will be nothing compared to the repercussions that could potentially follow if I put it off and there is something not right.  It's not a risk I am willing to take, and other girls my age shouldn't either.

There are young girls out there in their early 20s fighting, begging, pleading doctors to give them a smear test because they are concerned about symptoms that they are experiencing.


So many women put off going for their smears, it's quite scary.  It's understandable, in some ways, but it's scary.  It's like putting off going to the dentist because you're scared, it's the same concept.  It's also a bit embarrassing too.  But, honestly, they've seen it thousands of times before - unless yours sings it really is no different.

A smear test can save your life.  Regular cervical screening is the best way to detect changes to the cervix before cancer develops.

Early detection and treatment can prevent cancer developing in around 75% of cases.  It also can detect cervical cancer early on, meaning treatment is more likely to be effective.

I have preached previously about the importance of going for your smear test when you have been invited - you can read that here if you like - but it really is important.  All the money that the funding that is being cut to the NHS and smear testing is still funded.  If it really wasn't that important, surely they would just cut the funding and leave us to our own devices?  No invites through the post, no reminders etc.

If you're reading this, and you know you have a cervical screening invite shoved in a drawer somewhere that you've been trying to forget about, dig it out and make the appointment.  The worst thing is that it might hurt a bit.  But, come on girls, that's better than the worst case scenario alternative, isn't it?

You may also like: How the strength of one family could save the lives of others

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