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Interview 20

Age at interview: 52
Age at diagnosis: 46
Brief Outline: Abnormal smears in 1995. Referred to colposcopy clinic. Abnormal cervical cells diagnosed. Treatment given; Diathermy loop excision (in-patient). Abnormal smear in 2001. Referred to colposcopy clinic. Diagnosed with abnormal cervical cells (CIN2/3) Treatment given; diathermy loop excision (out-patient).
Background: Care Assistant, cohabiting, 1 child, 3 step-children.

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She believes it would be much worse to find out you have cervical cancer and to know that you...

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Although I'm quite squeamish I have to say I really don't find that a bad procedure at all. It seems to me to be extremely quick, totally painless. You can feel somebody doing it but it can't even come into the category for me of discomfort. I am quite a squeamish person so why I don't mind that I don't know. I mean I wouldn't choose to go and have a smear if you offered me one now, it's not something you want to have done but it seems to me it's such a quick and painless procedure. Perhaps I am intolerant but I do find it quite difficult to understand why particularly women in relationships or married would find that a difficult thing to have done. I can understand perhaps why a young girl, or somebody that hasn't, who is still a virgin might have a difficulty with that but to me it's not even as bad as giving blood. I don't particularly like having needles stuck in me but I'll do that if I think that it's going to prevent some horrible condition from developing. So perhaps that's, I would spread the word and I do, I sort of say "well it's such a nothing thing have it done because to have cancer must be so awful and to know that you could've done something to avoid it".

 

She wasn't too concerned when she received another abnormal cervical screening test result after a period of normal tests.

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Well not tremendously panicky because I'd had a previous smear and I knew, positive smear, and I knew that what it was picking up was pre-cancerous cells. And I also knew that my previous smear had, the one that was positive was 95 and I'd had 3 yearly check-ups after that, cervical smears, so that whatever was there probably I'd be very unlucky if it had sort of developed into something really terrible in the intervening time.

 

Attending a patient information group for women who were having treatment for abnormal cervical...

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So, well we also had verbal information because the [hospital] had a special clinic for people before you went for your procedure, to explain what the procedure was going to be about which actually I didn't enjoy at all, I'm pretty squeamish, I'm probably less squeamish now than I was. And it was a couple of nurses and a lot of women sitting round in a big circle. And they explained what a pre-cancerous condition of the cervix was to us. And then they started to explain what the procedures were for treating it at which point I fainted and had to be taken out and put on a bed with my feet in the air to recover. I didn't find that very helpful. I mean quite interesting to know what it is, but I don't actually want to know exactly what they're going to do thank you very much. And I think that actually got me in more of a state that first lot of treatment than not having a pre treatment session.

 

The anaesthetic felt unpleasant but it was not painful.

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I remember, that's right she had to inject round the area I think and you could actually feel that. But I wouldn't describe it as pain, more the fact that you can feel something happening inside you which probably isn't a very, well it isn't a very pleasant feeling. But it can't be described as pain at all, just a not very pleasant feeling. 

 

It helped to have leaflets which explained the kind of bleeding that might occur after diathermy...

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I didn't go to work that week because I do quite a lot of lifting in my job so I stayed at home then. But I think more of a problem was trying to remember not to do things because I actually felt fine, I didn't have any problems at all.

I don't enjoy having a sort of constant bleed, but the leaflets that were given to me explained that you can bleed for quite a long time and it explained the difference between the sorts of bleeding you might expect and when to worry about it and when not to worry about it and I found that very helpful because you could just you know if you weren't sure about whether it should be fresh blood, or whether you should be passing sort of brown discharge or whatever you could just look at the leaflet and see. 

And that was fine, I felt very confident about all of that, didn't need to go and see my doctor, I just sort of carried on. And gradually over, I think it was I did bleed for quite a long time, two and a half weeks I think afterwards it sort of stopped and I really didn't have any problems at all. I had a slightly sore tummy, that sort of felt like it was just because you'd had somebody sort of messing about inside you, like perhaps very mild period pain probably is best described.

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