July 2017 I went for my regular 2 year Pap smear which came back abnormal. So I went for my second in December as directed by my GP, this also came back abnormal with high risk HPV 16.
January 9th a day after my 31st birthday I went for a colposcopy and biopsy and results came back as CIN II and what appeared to be AIS but needed further investigation. March I got a phone call from my gynaecologist to come in that morning for results and with my 10 year old daughter sitting beside me he informed me it wasn’t AIS but adenocarcinoma (a rarer type of cancer in the glandular cells of the cervix).
He said I would be referred to an oncologist team at RBWH and recommended treatment is a hysterectomy. Having tried for another baby for 9 years, my husband and I agreed that it was the treatment that I needed for our family.
I had a hysterectomy on May 21st and I was lucky enough to be able to choose to keep my ovaries and avoid HRT and bone density scans. I had 2 weeks off work and just had my post-op checkup and got the wonderful news that no cancer remains.
I am very lucky that I am always on time for Pap smears because if I wasn’t, they wouldn’t have caught this before it moved out of my cervix.
I want friends and friends of friends to be aware and go and get that Pap smear that they have been delaying because ‘something has come up’. If something came up for me, the cancer could be in my lymph nodes or even lungs. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me and send me messages to say how crappy it is, I want a message to say “I got a Pap smear today and it sucked but I got it!” Or a message to say “I told my friend/ wife/ sister/ mother about you and they have now booked to get a Pap smear”.
Excuses we all like to make-
*I can’t afford it- well we have this wonderful thing in Australia called Medicare and bulk billing doctors still exist don’t let money put you off.
*I don’t have a babysitter- friends and family will help and If you still don’t have a babysitter let me know and I’ll see where I can help (my daughter has sat behind the curtain many times).
*I work late- GP surgeries are open after hours and weekends.
*They hurt- Yep sometimes they can be uncomfortable but it’s all over within about 1 minute, I’m sure you will be ok.
*I haven’t got a letter yet saying I’m due- well ask your GP, the Pap Smear Register is great but not 100% reliable.
*I’ve had the Gardasil vaccination- Yep me too…
Good news- the new quick 30 second- 1 minute test is only needed every 5 years. Better news- this test can save your life.
Yep it is crappy that after nearly a decade of trying for another baby I no longer have the option but I am so thankful for a free test that I can watch my daughter grow up. This ‘bump in the road’ won’t stop me.
Please, please tell your wife, girlfriend, friend, sister, mother, daughter or even co-worker to go and get a Pap smear. Sometimes a gentle reminder is all it takes to save someone.