Don’t really have a cool picture to go with ‘Colposcopy Results’. Ideally I’d be reporting about our amazing EndoActive Conference which took place last Saturday, May 16 but I’ve spent most of the week recovering and writing thank you emails and all of a sudden this has come first. If you’re reading this, please read to the end! Very, very important.
Just to recap – a few weeks ago my GP referred me back to my surgeon (who has performed both my laparoscopies for Endo and done a wonderful job) after my 3rd abnormal Pap test. Apparently it’s quite common to have abnormal readings of Pap test which is why doctors wait until you’ve had 3 in a row until they take the next step. All my results showed LOW Grade abnormality (even with the ThinPrep test which I paid a bit extra for to get a more accurate reading). Nevertheless, my surgeon decided to perform the Colposcopy in theatre so that if there was anything to be removed he could do it on the spot.
As it turned out, there were was. He lasered off some abnormal cells and sent a biopsy to pathology. To my relief, I woke up in very little pain and had a nice and easy recovery without the need for pain killers. First time that has ever happened!! I put that down to correct pain relief before going under anesthetic as I had warned the anesthetist that I usually have extreme pain after any procedure. The only thing I experienced during the week was fatigue, bloating and constipation. Movicol really helps! (2 sachets at a time mixed with water and up to 8 a day if things are really bad)
So today my results were in. Quite alarmingly, my surgeon told me that all my Pap test readings were incorrect and that the changes on my cervix were HIGH grade and not low grade as the previous tests had shown… slightly concerning that this wasn’t picked up over the past 12 months but there you go. Those high grade changes and the biopsy results indicated that the cells were also pre-cancerous.
It’s scary even writing those words and I did have a big cry after I absorbed that information but I’m trying to jump straight to the part which everyone else is saying which is “it isn’t cancer and it’s just good news because they’ve got it early”. That’s very true. It is scary to know that it could’ve gone another way but now that it’s been brought to everyone’s attention, I have no doubt it’ll all be kept under control.
It would be really easy to gloss over this and say yes yes yes I’m extremely lucky and very privileged and thank god for modern medicine and my extra-cautious surgeon and it’s all taken care of so just move on and move forward. But honestly I am still scared. I’m human for fuck’s sake and I don’t care who you are, NOBODY wants to hear the word Cancer. Pre-cancer, almost cancer, not quite cancer – whatever. It’s scary and yes, I know I’m in good hands and it’s NOT cancer. But warranted or not, I’m worried. Lately it’s been in the back of my mind that people with Endo are at higher risk of developing certain types of cancer. That’s a fact I only found out myself a few months ago. It’s probably not that common but the risk is there. So yeah, it’s scary and I’m scared.
PHEW! Good to get that out of the way. I’ll find out more information in a follow-up appointment in a few weeks and will have a repeat colposcopy in 3 months to keep an eye on things. If there’s anything you can take away from this, KEEP UP WITH YOUR PAP TESTS!!!!! And if your readings are even slightly abnormal, keep a close eye on them, go back for check-ups and don’t ignore notifications from your doctor.
Back in high school I was one of the students who benefited from the recently introduced Cervical Cancer shot which was subsidised by the government. This was and is a great initiative, however one thing we weren’t told is that that inoculation only protects you from 3 out of roughly 80 or 90 different strands of HPV!!! This was news to me – all these years I thought I was only getting Pap tests to make sure I didn’t have chlamydia or herpes or AIDS or some other type of STD.
I had no idea I was still at risk of developing cervical cancer because after all why would I? I had the magic shot! WRONG! I found this information out for the first time from my surgeon on the day of my colposcopy. What a shock that was. As he said, I am probably one among thousands of other girls who are walking around with a false sense of security – thinking that we’re completely protected when in fact we are not. This was probably the most important thing that I learned from this experience and I’m quite shocked at how naive and ill-informed I’ve been this whole time. To think that there’s a whole generation of women and girls who think they don’t need Pap tests is truly terrifying.
I MUST TELL EVERYONE!! TOGETHER WE MUST TELL EVERYONE!!
Take something from my experience and please take care of yourself people.