This week is Cervical Cancer Prevention week, 75% of cervical cancers can be prevented by a smear test yet many women are choosing not to attend their screening. Jo’s Trust have created the #smearforsmear campaign to raise awareness and encourage women to get tested.
Those of you young enough, hark back to 2002.
Big Brother was still leaning more toward social experiment than complete shit show and an annoying yet endearing young lass from Bermondsey hit our screens like a geographically retarded typhoon (I could relate).
Jade Goody was Marmite.
She was girl done good.
Within 7 years she had died of cervical cancer leaving behind two young boys.
Whether you classed Jade Goody as celebrity or wannabe, there is no denying that her death raised awareness.
In 2009, the amount of women attending their PAP test (smear) had risen by 12% on the previous year. There was good to come from the bad.
Here we are, nine years on and how quickly we’ve forgotten.
The number of women attending their smear has dropped with only 1 in 4 women accepting their invitation (to the lamest but most important party ever).
I’m not going to completely patronise you but cervical cancer is the most common cancer in the under 35s.
A smear could pick up any abnormalities early doors.
It could save your life.
I’m not going to say it’s the most fun you’ve had with your knickers off, depending how many times you’ve been round the block, it may not be the worst.
My first smear took place in a small town called Hartlepool. I’ll be honest, I was bricking it.
I wore a long skirt and my best pants.
Dress to impress!
I walked into the nurses office, we made small talk.
Like a shit date.
I whipped off my knickers and clutched them in my hand, ready to run if required.
“You’re Jayne’s daughter aren’t you? How is she doing?”
Seriously, small talk should not have moved to the bed and certainly shouldn’t involved my mum!
“Ankles together, drop your knees and breathe”
All my lady bits ceased up.
“You know my mum? YOU KNOW MY MUM!”
The whole affair was shortlived but both mentally and physically awkward.
“I’m not coming to THIS party again”
Obviously, as the years went on I did do it again.
I don’t like to brag, but I’m kinda sensible like that.
Here’s an interesting fact about me, and possibly a bit TMI, I have a tilted cervix.
It’s not life threatening and 99% of the time it doesn’t bother me at all.
In fact, the only time it’s really an issue is at smear o’clock.
I am so used to women gazing into my vajayjay saying
“Nope, I can’t get a good swipe, can you lift your bum a bit”
I duly place my buttocks on my clenched fists
“Is that any better?”
“No, can you raise a little more?”
“No, I can’t acutally, I don’t do thighs at the gym” (This is hilarious because I don’t do the gym at all).
I am debating taking a small stack of books next time, just to make it easier.
Eventually after a lot of fumbling, cranking and jiggling, we get there.
She gets ‘enough’.
Enough of what I don’t know.
Like a shit date.
I’m nearly 40 now, I’ve had a fair few smears.
They’ve all been awkward and uncomfortable but I’ve always come away feeling relieved.
Knowing that if there is anything untoward happening up there, I’ll be alerted.
A smear isn’t the most fun you can have with your knickers off but it’s better than cancer.
As uncomfortable as having a smear is, I am thankful I’ve not got Erica’s tale to tell…
So ladies, the Jade Goody effect has worn off and less eligible ladies are having their smear.
This is frankly ridiculous.
I won’t lecture you.
You know what could happen. You could ultimately die from something that could be prevented.
If your smear is due, book an appointment, go and see the nice nurse, whip your knickers off, lie back and think of England.
But before you do let me regale you with a tale of one of my smears:
Let me set the scene, this was pre-children, pre-losing my dignity – these days I’d whip my knickers off and let the Tesco delivery man take a butchers but back then I was a different beast.
I entered the room and the nurse left while I got undressed – why do they do that? They’re about to look up your hoo hah seeing you remove your kecks is hardly in that league.
Anyway, I removed the bottom part of my clothing.
Top tip here for anyone who is easily embarrassed – wear a maxi skirt, you can take your pants off and just fling your skirt up at the appropriate moment.
I folded my trousers and placed my knickers carefully on top – why I did this I don’t know, I always do.
Then I heaved myself up onto the couch.
I always rip the bloody paper they use to line the bed – or take half of it off with my arse cheeks.
Anyway, I lay back.
In comes nursey.
Bring your heels up and let your knees flop, yes yes.
Then in goes the speculum, everyones favourite part.
Open it up, Super.
Where’s she going?
Oh you need to pop out for something?
No, no, I’ll be fine.
Err. Hang on.
What if there’s a fire alarm?
I cant get up!
The best I can hope for is to roll off the bed and wriggle my way out of harms way.
It was all OK though eventually Nursey arrived back with whatever she needed carried on with the scrapey-scrape procedure and all was done and dusted within minutes.
Why don’t you join the campaign?
Take a lipstick smeared selfie and share it far and wide using the #smearforsmear hashtag.
Erica from The Incidental Parent and I run a Facebook group Les Femmes Ensemble which is for ALL WOMEN to find support, have a laugh and generally enjoy each others company. Feel free to join us – and thanks to our lovely members Lisa, Terry, Sally, Emma, Jenny and Cassie for kindly letting us use their smeary mug shots.