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Interview 10

Age at interview: 54
Age at diagnosis: 54
Brief Outline: Two abnormal smear test results. Referred to colposcopy clinic. Awaiting results of biopsy taken at colposcopy.
Background: Hospital secretary; married, 2 children.

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She put off having cervical screening until she was forty because she was too scared to go for a test. But...

She put off having cervical screening until she was forty because she was too scared to go for a test. But...

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I was 40 before I had my first smear, didn't want one, didn't want to go through it, that was something other women did and I sort of buried my head in the sand really I suppose. Then I had a bit of a problem, I can't remember what it was now and I told a friend of mine and she said "you've got to have a smear done", and I said "no I'm not going to have a smear". And in the end she made an appointment for me and I went to the GP for my first smear and it was fine. And again it didn't hurt you know what I thought it was going to.

 

Embarrassment prevented her from having a cervical screening test until she was 40 years old but she advises...

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Embarrassment prevented her from having a cervical screening test until she was 40 years old but she advises...

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Pure embarrassment, nothing else but that. You think, I had 3 children in 4 years and you go through everything when you're having children and you've just got no dignity left no modesty, nothing, it's all gone. And then you think after my last post natal I thought that's it, never again, no more. But then of course you come to this, you should be having smears, I thought no I'm not going to go through all this indignity again. So then I got to 40 and had a problem and realised that I would have to go and I would advise any woman don't worry about it, it's just something, it's over and done so quickly. It doesn't hurt, it's uncomfortable, it does not hurt. I would advise any woman don't risk your life by not having a smear done.

 

She did not feel any discomfort or pain when her biopsy was taken.

She did not feel any discomfort or pain when her biopsy was taken.

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She was going to take away the piece of skin, flesh, whatever you want to call it. So muscles all tensed back up again thinking this is it, I'm going to feel this, she's going to cut me and I'm going to feel it but she sprayed some mild anaesthetic on it and I didn't feel a thing. It was over and done with. She said "It is so minute," she said "I can hardly see it," because the nurse had the jar there ready for it to go into liquid and preservative or whatever. I didn't look, I couldn't bear to look but she said it is so minute and that was the end of it.

 

It is important to be treated personally when receiving an abnormal test result for the first time.

It is important to be treated personally when receiving an abnormal test result for the first time.

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Right from the Clinical Nurse Practitioner that did the first smear, that phoned me at home with the results that was absolutely fantastic and I don't, I can't think of many places that that would happen. I'd like to think it would happen to most women everywhere that I was treated very personally and not just one of a number, I think that's important that every woman is treated that, you know this is the first time it's happened to this woman you know let's tell her, let her down lightly, let's tell her gradually and not to worry. Not in a black and white written letter.

 

Describes her feelings about receiving a second abnormal test result.

Describes her feelings about receiving a second abnormal test result.

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I spoke to friends about it and some of those friends have had the experience of an abnormal smear anyway and they was okay afterwards. So yeah it was, I mean that 6 months went quite quickly and then after that I got a normal result, so that was good. And she said after that result "Come back in a year, we're not going to leave you 2 years, we will keep an eye on you, so that year make sure you come back." Which I did, that was another year that, I mean I felt quite safe but I was quite looking forward if you like to having that smear done again. So when that result come back abnormal I was quite, more choked than I was the first time really because I thought how can I get a normal one and then a year later it's back to abnormal again.

 

Describes the support she was given by a nurse when she had an abnormal result and was referred...

Describes the support she was given by a nurse when she had an abnormal result and was referred...

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But the lady that phoned me with that result was the actual Clinical Nurse Practitioner I think she is at the hospital, again at the hospital for, particularly for women. She actually phoned me at home after, from her home at night because she'd been trying to get hold of me while I was at work and she couldn't track me down and she was on the phone for over an hour explaining to me why the results of this smear had happened and "It's really unfortunate, we don't think there's anything wrong but because it is another iffy smear we just want to follow it through just to, to reassure you and reassure ourselves that there isn't anything wrong." She was very, very nice.

 

Health professionals need to be aware of the anxiety women experience when they attend for a...

Health professionals need to be aware of the anxiety women experience when they attend for a...

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But then the nurse called me into another waiting area and I just sat in a bleak corridor, listening to other nurses chatting, them not giving a thought to how I was feeling that my appointment was well over an hour late, over an hour and a half late and I would rather have sat out in the big waiting area than this pokey little corridor where they put me. 

Eventually the doctor called me in, she said "I apologise for the wait," and the nurse apologised for the wait and there is no more to be said after that. But I think what the professionals have got to remember is that what they consider an every day job that they do, every week of their lives for however long they're in that job, is the first time it's happening to a woman. It's, this woman is sitting out there, she is quaking in her boots, she is terrified of what's going to happen to her, she's terrified of the results that are going to be come up with what's happening to her, she's sitting there, she can't wait to get this awful thing over and done with but they've missed it, they've actually missed it. 

Their apology to me was fine, I'm not knocking it, they couldn't do any more but apologise but I don't think they understood really what they was apologising for.

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