Results: ‘possible low-grade changes’. This essentially means my body is still fighting HPV but that it is gradually healing. Improved results from last time where I had definite low-grade changes. Good news says my doctor. I’ll have another colposcopy in 6 – 9 months.
Had a quick trip to RPA for my 3rd colposcopy. This is something I’ve had to do a few times since the pre-cervical cancer scare I had last year.
A colposcopy is kind of like a ‘next level’ pap test. It’s the same deal with the whole scooch down the table, vagina out, feet in the stirrups, stare at the ceiling, drop your knees to the side all while trying to have the most chilled, casual conversation with your gynaecologist about life and the weather and how badly we’re doing in the Olympics while your doctor’s face is 2 inches away from your vaginal cavity.
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.
Tomorrow I’ll be making a quickie trip to hospital to have a Colposcopy because I am a Hospo Head. I actually hate hospitals. A lot. But then so do most people. I’m having this procedure done because I’ve had 3 low-grade abnormal pap smears in the last 12 months so my doctors think it’d be best to have a look around, take some biopsies and make sure everything is sweeto burrito. Normally a colposcopy takes 5 or 10 minutes and is done in the doctor’s rooms but given my track record of “quick, easy, pain-free” procedures turning traumatic, my surgeon has booked me into theater.
I’ll be put under a ‘twilight’ aneasthetic. Doesn’t that sound fun? I love that term so much. I’m visualising a swirly path of twinkly stars with rhinestone studded geese and Harry Potter’s house-elves and Falcor the Lucky Dragon who looks like a giant white dog from the Neverending Story all there to guide me to the Congress of Mythical Creatures. I’m almost looking forward to it now! Anyway the ‘twilight’ means I won’t feel a thing and if my surgeon finds any abnormalities that need lasering or removing then he can do it on the spot. Not gonna lie I did get a bit scared and upset when I first found out. It was a slight shock and the thought of hospital gives me anxiety but I’m feeling ok about it now and I’m sure everything will be cool as a cucumber. Keep y’all posted on my Hospital Quicke! x