Cervical Screenings: Drop the Age!

After the upsetting and tragic news that a nineteen year old girl from the UK died last week from Cervical Cancer, there has been an unprecedented amount of support flooding in for the age of smear tests to be reduced from 25. Sophie Jones was initially diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease after suffering from debilitating stomach pains. However, having been refused a smear test because she was too young, her actual diagnosis of cancer went unnoticed. Sadly, it was too late when doctors finally discovered the cancer late last year.

I have signed the petition and urge you all to do the same. Please, whether you are British or Worldwide, this is a very alarming and worrying cause. Although it is of low risk for a woman of under 25 to develop Cervical Cancer, it is still a risk. It can happen.

http://submissions.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/62385

The trend on Facebook at the moment is to post a no make-up selfie and donate £3 to Cancer Research. Suffering from BDD, I have held back. However, even I know this a good cause.

Girls: Let’s make a difference to women everywhere.

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Health Scare Part 2.

In the summer of 2008, I was booked in for a Colposcopy at the Royal Free Hospital in North London. It was a great hospital with a good reputation and I was pleased to be in their care. I wasn’t pleased however when my father insisted that I regale him with all the information and details about the procedure. I continued to tell him that it was to be extremely personal and intrusive and as a twenty six year old woman at the time, I wanted to endure it myself. I had not told any friends and was still yet to even tell my mother. Until it got to a point where I had to, it was something I wanted to keep private. Just because he had rooted through my things and discovered the truths, did not give him the right to have full clearance to know every detail of my life.

I had been working so hard to put some boundaries in place between us that this would only cancel them out. He was well aware of this and had no intention of risking loss of power over me. No matter how I reasoned with him, I never won. He had control over me.

As I sheepishly explained the steps of the Colposcopy, I felt sickened with each word. Why couldn’t he just investigate it over the web? No, he revelled in my discomfort.

By the time I had finished, my father looked at me with disgust then left. It was a look I was used to.

I tried to convince him that I would go to the appointment alone. Although I had hid the details of the appointment, unsurprisingly he had found them after one of his random “spring cleans” (or so he said). No, he had to be there and stick around as we sat awkwardly together in the waiting room. When the doctor called my name, I made my way to her as quickly as I could. I’m sure being stressed before was not the best emotion to be going through. I needed to be as relaxed as possible. How was that ever going to happen with the abuser awaiting me outside?

Of course the whole process was unpleasant and uncomfortable. I was very aware of where things were and what was happening to me. As a person who is incredibly insecure of their body, I have to admit it was one of the worst experiences of my life. This feeling was magnified by the fact the abuser would be the first face I would see after it was over.

My father had no sympathy for pain and as we left and walked to his car, he proceeded to list a set of targets I needed to achieve and complete for him over the following days, mainly to do with the house.

I had stopped listening the moment his lips opened and sound left his mouth.

This would be a moment that would be repeated for the next two years as an abnormal result kept appearing. I desperately wanted it to end. My fear of hospitals was fiercely developing and the abuser was winning. I finally opened up and told my boyfriend (my now husband David) about it all as well as my mother. David was supportive and understood that it was not my father’s place to accompany me, it was not doing the situation any good.

He offered to come instead.

I actually wanted to go alone but my father would never have allowed that. Instead, he accepted David’s request and had to back down unwillingly (he felt threatened by another man). He would not have a leg to stand on if he fought David for his position.

My last Colposcopy was 2011. It came back clear.

I had my catch up smear last month.

My results were normal.

Health Scare Part 1.

In 2008, after a routine smear test, I was informed that my test showed abnormal cells in my cervix. I had been having smear tests for a couple of years before and the results were always good so I was surprised to see this change.

My initial reaction was “keep it a secret”. I couldn’t tell my mother in fear of her reaction. Her fear of anything related to my health frightened me into not immediately speaking of it. I couldn’t bear her gasps of worry from what was an easily dealt with complaint. The doctors had made it clear that I would have to go through a procedure called a Colposcopy. Here the surface of the cervix is closely examined with an instrument called a colposcope. This device carefully looks to see if their are any abnormalities or cancerous cells. I was warned that a biopsy of the cervix may also be undertaken to determine whether the cells were indeed cancerous. The doctors reassured me that it would not be painful, just uncomfortable but it felt pretty uncomfortable – borderline painful to me.

It didn’t even cross my mind to tell my father. It was plain to me that this would be another thing he would use against me. The myth that cervical cancer developed after being promiscuous was something my father believed. That the HPV virus (linked to Herpes and cold sores) must mean that I was a slut. He had implied how “promiscuous” I was before after a doctor friend (albeit drunken doctor friend who hated my mother and often flirted outrageously with my father) stumbled into my bedroom one day at a party at my father’s house. When I caught her in there, she muttered something in Bengali and left. I went over to my desk where she had been standing and noticed how things were slightly out of place. She had been spying on me and had clearly noticed my carefully placed medicine at the back of my desk. Behind a couple of asthma inhalers lay an open packet of contraceptive pills. I was twenty one years old. Surely, other than proving that I was sexually active, it also clarified that I was being safe.

My father didn’t see it like that and berated me for ruining his reputation. I was not to have any indiscretions or appear reckless with life. Sex was sure fire reckless and crude behaviour to him. Though he happily flirted and flaunted affection at his married, drunkard doctor friend.

Cervical abnormalities can affect most women in their lives but it doesn’t mean that they will certainly develop cancer.

My father did eventually find out whilst partaking in his usual habit of delving through my post. Medical letters were a thrill for him to find as it gave him tremendous power over my basic human right – my health. Of course, after discovering my ongoing problem, my father was quick to verbally scold me, humiliate me and lash out at me. An argument ensued and I was left defending a cause that my father should have been supporting me through.

Once he knew the truth, what was essentially manageable to me became a nightmare for the following three examinations over the next two years.

My father now had control over my mind and my body.