If you didn't already know, last week was Cervical Cancer Prevention Week and with various amazing campaign ads doing the rounds, I realised that it was time to bite the bullet and book my first ever smear.
Now some of you may be giving me the tuts and head shakes for not going, but some of you may be in the same boat as me and feel the gut wrenching fear of getting your bits out in front of a stranger. Well I was that person until last Friday.
At almost 35, I really should know better. I've had 3 kids, I'm no stranger to baring my intimates to strangers. But the thought of laying on a little table and being so exposed and 'looked' at, filled me with dread. Did I know that it was silly? That my health should be first and foremost over dignity? Yes and yes!
As a fat girl, I did and still do think that I have flabby extras where there normally isn't and I think that overall, I was expecting some kind of fat shaming from the nurse. It's nothing unusual being the larger type, visiting your GP for a chest infection but being made to weigh yourself. Totally unrelated to that original illness you went in with but sure, it's because of your weight. *Eyeroll*
So i thought instead of telling you the ins and outs of Cervical screening and what it tests, I thought I'd simply tell you my account of my first smear. I honestly feel so ashamed of myself for putting it off so long!
So I get called in by the nurse and take a seat in her room. We talk about the procedure, what the test checks for and when to expect any results. I'm asked to go behind the screen and undress from the waist down - I wore a simple skater dress and leggings so when I was half undressed, I was still pretty covered. I was then asked to lay on the bed with my knees up. The nurse is totally lovely and we chatted the entire time. No awkward silences and I was at complete ease. It was at this point that I felt like this was no big deal. This was her job, she must of seen a thousand fannies!! After dropping my knees outwards, she gently inserted the speculum (before I visited, I envisaged being wrenched open so wide that you could toss a couple of coins in. I was so wrong! It's inserted about an inch or so in and opened very slightly just so the cervix is in view.) and used the long brush to collect the cells. I was told to expect a sweeping, scraping sensation but I could barely feel anything if I'm totally honest. Then it was done!
There was nothing embarrassing, no gross noises and the nurse didn't recoil in horror at the sight of my giant minge. With the number of smears falling, I wonder how many of those women that put them off do so because of small insecurities? It's made me wonder how many of those are overweight. Shouldn't the health of your body come before your dignity? I might be deemed overweight but I like to keep myself pretty fit and that shouldn't just be about exercise but about the vital screening that is accessible to me. Should you have any concerns about getting your first test, please do check out https://www.jostrust.org.uk/ This site is full of information and support. And please know that it's ok to be worried or embarrassed, it's only natural, but it doesn't compare to the possibility of cancer x