A-Z

Anna - Interview 18

Age at interview: 28
Age at diagnosis: 27
Brief Outline: Anna found out she had mild cervical abnormalities while travelling abroad in Columbia. She had a colposcopy and punch biopsy there but was unsure whether she had cancer or pre-cancer. She flew back to England and was treated by LLETZ.
Background: Anna is single and works in marketing Ethnic background / nationality' White British

More about me...

Anna always attended for cervical screening. She received one abnormal result and was asked to have another test six months later. This one was normal and, another six months later, in 2008, Anna had another smear test. She then went travelling with her boyfriend. As she had not heard anything from her local surgery, she assumed there had been no problems.

While abroad, Anna read stories about reality TV star Jade Goody’s experience of cervical cancer and felt she should make sure her results were normal. She phoned her doctor’s surgery in England and was told that a letter had been sent to her home address. This letter informed her that she had abnormalities and had been referred to a colposcopy clinic. Because Anna had been travelling, she had not received this letter.

Anna was worried about her results and, while in Columbia, paid to see a consultant. She was given a colposcopy and punch biopsy and, in a following appointment, was given the results. However, she left this consultation unsure whether she had cancer or pre-cancer and said that, as well as worrying about her health at this time, she had also had language barriers to deal with. Anna said that she was ‘going through hell’ during those two weeks in Columbia, worrying how serious the problem could be, and the information she found on the internet was frightening and confusing.

Anna typed out the results letter she had been given by the consultant, which was in English, and emailed it to her GP in England. The letter used the term ‘carcinoma in situ’, a term that is very rarely used these days, and Anna said her GP told her that this meant cancer. She and her boyfriend flew back to England, where she saw a consultant at a colposcopy clinic. She told her that she did not have cancer but pre-cancer, and Anna was treated there and then by LLETZ. She was also given a follow-up appointment for six months time.

Anna was disappointed in the information given to her by her GP and, since then, has changed doctor. Because she had been told ‘carcinoma in situ’ was cancer, she and her boyfriend had cut short their trip by three months. Back in England, Anna said she was treated very quickly as an out-patient and was happy with the care and information she received.

 

Anna was in Columbia when she learnt about her colposcopy referral. She saw a doctor there but...

Anna was in Columbia when she learnt about her colposcopy referral. She saw a doctor there but...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Well I’ve always been very good, on top of my smears, so I’ve always gone. I had one, it must’ve been a couple of years ago, that was abnormal. But it was a mild abnormality, so they just waited to see what would happen.

The next one I had was okay. Then I had a smear March 2008, which I didn’t receive the results of, and I went travelling in June 2008. So, because it had been a couple of months, I thought I haven’t heard so I assume everything’s okay. Which I realise now was an error.

I was actually travelling. I’d gone travelling for a year, and it would have been February 2009. I saw all this business of Jade Goody. I thought, “Oh my God you know, I didn’t get my results. I should probably find out, give them a ring.”

So I called up, and they said that there had been changes again, which were mild abnormalities, and as a result they’d sent me for a colposcopy. But because I was away I hadn’t received the letter. So I arranged, in Colombia, to have one. Which was a nightmare because I didn’t speak much Spanish. I could basically speak how to order food, get around on transport and stuff, so obviously this was a little above what I could handle.

Anyway so I went and they obviously acknowledged there was a problem. They sent my biopsy off. I asked for when the results come back to have an English speaking doctor, which thankfully they did get for me. But again, although his English was good, it wasn’t perfect. He was very good, you know, and he explained everything would be okay, but I left the meeting not quite sure whether I had cancer or pre-cancerous cells.

 

The atmosphere was very relaxed. The procedure was painless and had little impact on Anna’s life...

The atmosphere was very relaxed. The procedure was painless and had little impact on Anna’s life...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

As soon as I got to the hospital, she was, “No, no, it’s fine. Absolutely no problem. I can treat you here and now.” It was very relaxed. My boyfriend came with me as well, and while she was, I mean the procedure probably took about fifteen minutes or something. And it was the loop procedure where they just sort of burn it out with a loop thing.

And we were just chatting about our holiday, you know, it was all very relaxed. The nurse was very relaxed. There was all sorts of, almost a bit of a jokey atmosphere, it was fine. Obviously afterwards I couldn’t really exercise, have sex, swim, and had to take it easy for a month. But other than that it didn’t really affect my life.

You get to see it all on the screen as well, which is interesting. But I tried, I didn’t like to look, particularly during the procedure because it wasn’t very attractive. And I think, like I said, I didn’t feel anything but when you look at something, it’s like when you don’t feel a cut, and then you have blood and suddenly you do. So I didn’t look.

But my boyfriend, being a nurse, was very interested. So it was good having someone there. I think it’s good to take somebody with you because, at the time, there’s a lot of information being thrown at you. It’s just nice to have someone afterwards to be able to discuss things with, and if there was something you weren’t sure with they, because they’re a bit calmer because it’s not them, so yeah.

 

Anna said telling her partner about HPV was a bit tricky. He wondered if he could catch it from...

Anna said telling her partner about HPV was a bit tricky. He wondered if he could catch it from...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

How did you feel about the whole HPV thing?

Well that was a little bit of a tricky one because my boyfriend was going, “Well what is this? Have you given it to me? Have you…?” And it was actually when I first, when I had my first abnormal smear which showed minor changes, and I went to the doctor and I said, “So what is HPV? Is it an STD?” And she said, “Well it’s not really.” I said, “Okay, so what is it?” And she said, “Well you, you know, you contract it from having sex.” And I said, “So that is an STD?” She’s like, “Well,” and again it’s quite difficult. I think it’s, I still can’t really explain in my mind what it is.

And I was saying well can I pass it onto my partner? And she said, “No.” But then I don’t know how, I still don’t understand it because obviously it can because that’s how it gets passed around.

So do you think there should be more information?

Yeah. Because I mean I’ve read about it until, you know, till the end of the earth and I still don’t quite get it. Because it seems that it’s something that you can pass on. You can pass it on even when you do use protection, can’t you? Because it’s just skin contact.

So anyway, so that was a bit of like a tough one to tackle with my boyfriend, because he was saying, “Well have I got it, have you given it to me?” And I said, “Well to be honest, you know I might have got it from you.” But again we’re not, well is it an STD or what? So. Yeah that was a bit, that was a bit of a funny one. But again he wasn’t really, I think he was obviously a little bit concerned by it.

 

Anna said having sex after healing was fine. She trusted her boyfriend but, had she been in a new...

Anna said having sex after healing was fine. She trusted her boyfriend but, had she been in a new...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

After the month, and after I’d stopped bleeding, no it [sex] was fine really. And I think, had I not been with my partner, I might have been a little bit more, but because you know I trust him so much, that was fine. But obviously if I was single, I think I would probably feel a bit differently, particularly because that’s how this whole problem came about isn’t it, from simply not having the most suitable partner. But I don’t know, you know, it was quite easy to get.

Previous Page
Next Page