‘I’m making sure I do all I can to not get a preventable disease.’

Phoebe found out she had a high-risk HPV and abnormal cells during a routine cervical screening test two years ago. She blogs about her treatment for the abnormal cells and her experience of going for screening with health anxiety.

Two years ago I went for a routine cervical screening test and the results came back saying I had HPV and abnormal cells. This was honestly not the result I was expecting, especially as I opened the letter saying when and where my ‘procedure’ would be before the letter stating what I had and how it would be treated- that was a fun 30 mins of genuinely thinking I had cancer before finding the letter explaining it all. So naturally I was terrified.

Long story short I went for a colposcopy and the doctor couldn’t have been nicer or more clear about what was happening.

She gave me the option to watch the monitor to see what was happening- I politely declined- although my boyfriend did look (creepy or supportive?) I have health anxiety so this whole situation I found myself in was hell, but when I told the doctor how scared I was she said ‘I am not going to let you get cancer. You are here, we will do everything we can to keep you well. It’s the women who don’t go to their screenings that I worry about’.

I got the results back and they found that I didn’t have abnormal cells, I cried!- it didn’t explain why, but I was RELIEVED.

I then had another routine cervical screening this time last year and it came back as no abnormal cells but the HPV was still there. So clingy!

On Monday I’m going to my screen, and for some reason I have been incredibly nervous. Like, stomach wrenching worry. Why? Well, HEALTH ANXIETY, but also I’m worried that if the HPV is still there (and 80% of people get it in their lifetime but your immune system usually clears it naturally) then, is it just going to stay there until it gives me cancer? Now I know there are a million steps in between, but that’s where your head goes. Am I worried about going to the doctors while there’s a pandemic? Sure. But I’m sure as hell more scared of getting cervical cancer.

And this got me thinking- If I am willing to make sure I go to my cervical screening test, why am I not more vigilant with other types of cancers? Why do I do a quick grab of my boobs to check for lumps and go ‘sure, nothing there, all good for another month’? Proper check in the shower tomorrow morning, Pheebs.

There’s a lot of stigma around HPV, and stress about having to go to the doctors for my cervical screening test, and I am now hugely scared of opening that letter to see what the results are- but even if they are not the ‘a ok’ results I want, at least I know I’m making sure I do all I can to not get a potentially preventable disease.

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