"As my mum told “Cancer does not discriminate Sarah" and she is right. I'm 29 years old. I exercise regularly, don’t drink much, no longer smoke, eat really healthy, don’t take the pill, and stay clear of toxic things as much as possible, I'm a Personal trainer for Christ sake and this STILL happened to me"
I know I've been quiet for a while, but I'm officially back.
The reason I have been quiet is I had a whirlwind of a month to say the least and had a Cancer scare. Scare it definitely was. Scared the absolute crap out of me if I'm going to be quite frank. Anytime that nasty "C" word is mentioned in any conversation is enough let alone when it's something you are possibly diagnosed with.
I want to share my VERY personal recent experience with you in hopes that my experience will bring some awareness to other women especially. September being Gynaecological awareness month the
Timing couldn’t be better.
WARNING: there is about to be some talk about the "V" in a non-sexual way so any male reading this please read on anyway because you all have a mum, possibly a sister or daughter and if you’re lucky enough a friend, partner or wife. They need to be aware and may need a little reminder.
A month ago I went for a routine breast and Pap test. Both tests all women in our country with our medical system should know about and get done regularly (according to age). For those that don't know, a pap test is a screening process that tests for abnormal cell changes that lead to cervical cancer and cervical cancer itself. So nothing out of the ordinary just a routine womanly check up for me.
Within the week my GP left me an urgent message on my phone to come in ASAP. Any time that kind of message is left on your phone from a doctor is enough to send you into a sheer state of panic.
My results, I had possible high grade abnormalities and I needed to urgently make an appointment with a specialist. I burst into to tears. This type of unexpected news is overwhelming especially when you have no symptoms, feel healthy and you have no idea what the medical mumbo jumbo even means.
My first thoughts... Is this really happening to me right now? Could I have cancer? Will I ever be able to have kids? Of course my doctor did not help the situation, in fact exacerbated it by not really knowing the answers to my questions herself. Might I add google is definitely the ENEMY in any situation like this. Horror stories galore had me in a frenzy!
I went to my referred gynaecologist for more extensive tests. My results came back as severe pre-cancer cells known as CIN 3 - Cervical Intraepithelial (severe cervical dysplasia) and AIS (Adenocarcinoma in situ) which is rarer and involves glandular cell abnormalities. This meant I needed surgery as soon as possible to remove the cells and to do more testing to confirm the diagnosis.
Most women in their lifetime will have an abnormal pap result and most of the time CIN-1 - Cervical Intraepithelial (mild cervical dysplasia) is very common. It's usually left and monitored because the body usually will clear it up on its own.
CIN 2, CIN 3 and AIS are more severe abnormalities with a higher risk of progressing to cancer (being the next stage) and need to be removed.
I was referred to a gynaecological oncologist to do my surgery. Which was a cold knife cone biopsy which my surgeon would try to remove all of the pre-cancer cells by removing a cone shape piece of tissue and at the same time send the tissue off to pathology to confirm their diagnosis, checking there was no cancer cells present deeper in the cervical layers.
I've recovered well from my surgery now and I can count my lucky stars they were able remove ALL of the pre-cancer cells, found NO cancer malignancy and removed the cells with really big margins meaning there was no residual cells left behind. This was the best news that I could have hoped for. I really am grateful that it all turned out for me.
The main thing that scared me of course besides that "C" word was as a women who hasn't had kids yet, the idea that it could possibly be taken away from me prematurely. I tried to stay positive the whole time but the unknowing of it all and waiting for results is the worst part. I really feel for anyone battling with their health, it can really be a scary and vulnerable time.
I know how lucky I am and I'm just so grateful I had my pap test done when I did. If I had left it any longer I could have been in a much different situation. Had I not gone for a pap test at all there would have been a very high chance of those cells progressing to invasive cancer. It's scary........ I know....... But that’s why I need to share my story.
As my mum told me "Cancer does not discriminate Sarah" and she is right. I'm 29 years old. Exercise regularly, don't drink much, no longer smoke, eat really healthy, don’t take the pill, stay clear of toxic things as much as possible, I'm a Personal Trainer for Christ sake and this STILL happened to me.
This also happened to my mum at almost the exact same age. This also happened to
3 of my clients, 2 of my client’s friends, 2 of my friend’s mothers and 1 of my boyfriend’s mother’s friends.
I'm telling my story because cervical cancer is almost preventable. By going to your regular pap tests the changes can be picked up and removed before it even has a chance to turn into cancer. My mum had a normal pap test and 9 months later after having my sister she had severe abnormal cells that needed to be removed. I had normal pap tests for the last 8 years and mine went from normal to high grade.
Cervical cancer is mostly a slow growing cancer so the chances of you having it if you get regular pap tests is very low. Unfortunately there is rarely symptoms with early cervical cell changes its only when the cells develop into cervical cancer that there are any symptoms. Cervical cancer can be effectively treated when it is found early. Most women with early cervical cancer will be cured. In Australia the five year survival rate for women diagnosed is 72%.
If you are a women and you haven't had a test in a few years make an appointment TODAY, if you are a women and you have been or are sexually active and you have never had a pap test make an appointment TODAY. It’s uncomfortable, yes. Embarrassing, yes. But GP's see lots of V's and sorry to say but yours is no different to anyone else's, it’s not that special darlings.
If you are a male reading this blog remind your wife, girlfriend, sister, mother or friend to go and get her tests done.
These pre-screens save lives and we are so lucky here in Australia that we get access to them, most of the time the tests are Bulk billed too. Other women in other countries with higher mortality rates of cervical cancer are not as lucky and they don't have access to these kinds of tests. Our national cervical screening program states all women between the ages of 18-70 who have ever been sexually active have regular pap tests. If cervical cancer runs in your family like it does mine then make sure you stay up to date.
Highest incident rates of abnormalities and cervical cancer is ages 35-39 and ages 75-85+
“Gynaecological cancer is the 3rd most diagnosed cancer among females in Australia"
“Currently there is 5,683 new cases of gynaecological cancer diagnosed in Australia in 2016"
“Estimated 903 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in 2016"
If you love your mum, sister, girlfriend, wife or friend that is a girl please like and share. This could reach the right person at just the right time for them to stop putting this off.