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Interview 23

Age at interview: 41
Age at diagnosis: 27
Brief Outline: Abnormal smear test result in 1985. Referred to colposcopy clinic and diagnosed with abnormal cervical cells (CIN 1). Treatment given' laser therapy. No recurrence.
Background: Housewife; married, 1 child.

More about me...

 

She didn't realise the importance of having regular cervical screening tests when she was younger.

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Yes I had, not every three years and it was a bit hit and miss really. But I had been, I think the two years before, the three years before I'd gone I'd had one, and had the other and I'd start to think right I'm going to have them every three years but up until then no. But I suppose I was 27 and as I say I just didn't even think. It was something like oh I suppose I should go and have a smear test. May be I'd seen the leaflet about it or something in a magazine that prompted me. But I wasn't that vigilant about my health and oh I must book it in , I must go for a smear test every three years. It's something that didn't even, didn't even enter my head really at the time, it really didn't.

 

She was shocked when she received an abnormal cervical screening test because she felt fit and healthy.

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I just felt really, I suppose I was just really shocked because I was so healthy. I just, it was one of my fittest times, I was at a health club and I used to swim and walk miles and I just thought I would've known something was wrong. And I thought oh, you know they may have got it wrong.So I wasn't too worried at the time, I thought oh, the next test that I have, it'll show that there's nothing wrong. I suppose I was very optimistic in those days.

 

It helped to have a doctor who made her feel at ease and explained in detail what the treatment...

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This time when I went in I took somebody with me because I realised that I needed some sort of moral support. And it was a different doctor this time and he sat me down and explained everything to me, even did a diagram. He sort of said "This is where the abnormal cells are, all round your cervix, this is what we're going to do, it's a laser beam that actually burns it off and it sounds worse than it is. It's not like you're actually going to feel anything very much." And he sat down and he said "Have you got any questions that you want to ask?" And I, you know I did ask. I can't remember now what I asked but I remember asking a few question and feeling that I could ask him anything, he was really, really nice. And I then went over to the, to the table, sorry the bed that I was going to lie on and it was, it was quite frightening because your legs go into stirrups and they bring this machine over. And I was surprised at how many people were there. There was a nurse on the side of me and then there was the doctor and his assistant and I think there was probably a couple of students as well watching.

 

She felt very emotional after laser treatment.

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Again I bled quite a bit afterwards and had really low down period pain and just felt very, very, very emotional afterwards. I'm not sure whether that was the procedure or the fact that it's because I thought it was something, I still had it in my mind that this is more serious than it is. And then I kept thinking of if I hadn't had this done and if I hadn't gone for that smear test I'd be having cancer, I really thought, I still had that cancer thing in my mind. But I had somebody with me that time. I went home and then I went for a series of smear tests which then showed later on that I was clear. And I just, I was a bit shook-up by the whole experience.

 

Her consultant's attitude put her off asking questions about her abnormal cervical screening results.

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And anyway she took, then she took me into the room and then I met the doctor. And he sort of said "We're going to be taking some of the cells out to test and then we'll give you the results in a few weeks." And then he started to get up to go and I said "Look does that mean I've got cancer of the cervix?" And he was a bit annoyed actually because he said "No," he said "we're testing you, that's what we're testing you for. It doesn't mean just because you have abnormal smears, it does not mean that you've got cancer." He was very abrupt. And I, and I was quite taken aback that he was quite abrupt. I mean he's probably had that question so many times, that women as soon as they have an abnormal smear test they think it's cancer straight away, which I didn't until I got actually into the clinic. And I felt thereafter that I couldn't really ask him any questions. I felt like oh God I better not say anything more because he seemed a bit annoyed. 

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