An Explanation and a Plea.....

Saturday, July 23, 2016

You'd be forgiven if you thought this was just a post about lipstick, well that was sort of a sneaky rouse to get you here and reading a bit more; You may have noticed that things have been a little quiet on this website recently.
I've had a few health issues over the past few months and although I'm feeling a lot better I decided to take some time off to relax and get myself as healthy as possible. I'd like to use this time to raise awareness of an incredibly important issue which affects many women.
Every year around 3000 women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer and it is most common in those aged 35 years and under.
Women over the age of 25 are entitled to have a smear test every three years which involves a nurse taking a swab of the cervix and sending it off to be examined for any changes or abnormalities.
For the majority of women, these smear tests come back negative but for some they can show up changes which warrant further investigation. Smear tests are a little uncomfortable but are over within a few minutes. It's 100% worth the few minutes of discomfort as this test could potentially save your life.

I've had around 4 smear tests over the years. My first was normal, the second (three years later) showed possible abnormal cells so I was invited back for another after 6 months which was clear. My 4th was around 6 months ago which again showed changes. This time the changes required further investigation so I was sent to colposcopy clinic. A colposcopy is a bit like a smear test but a lot more invasive,  your legs are positioned in stirrups and magnifying equipment is used  so that the Dr can get a better view of things.
During the colposcopy the Dr will apply a solution which highlights any abnormal cells, at this stage they will then decide whether to treat them straight away, take a small biopsy for further testing or invite you back for a checkup in 6 months. At this first visit it was decided that a punch biopsy would be needed for me. Basically this means the Dr uses a small tool to remove an area smaller than a grain of rice from my cervix (although they did this 4 or 5 times). Punch biopsies don't usually require any anesthetic as they are over within seconds.

I was contacted just over 2 weeks later to advise that I needed to have some further treatment.
It's important to mention at this point that it is fairly rare to be diagnosed with cervical cancer straight away from a smear test or colposcopy. Usually these changes in cells are caused by CIN which stands for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. There are three classes of CIN, mild, moderate and severe dyskariosis (sometimes refered to as carcinoma-in-situ or Stage 0 cervical cancer). CIN 1 and 2 usually require monitoring or treatment depending on the size of affected area and CIN 3 always requires treatment as can become cancerous.

I was initially diagnosed with CIN3 which meant I needed some more treatment called an LLETZ procedure to have these cells removed. This involves using another small tool a bit like a loop of wire which uses an electric current to simultaneously remove and cauterize tissue to remove the abnormal cells. I had a local anesthetic, to say it was uncomfortable would be an understatement, it wasn't particularly painful but it was unpleasant. (I won't go into full details but do feel free to email me if you'd like to know more about what to expect). During this procedure the Dr noticed that the area to be treated was larger than first thought and might have a few questionable bits so said that it might be better if I came back to have the rest removed under a general anesthetic. I decided I'd prefer to just have it all removed there and then as I've had a GA before and always feel very ill afterwards. The Dr gave me more local anesthetic and completed the procedure that day. From start to finish it was all over in about 40  minutes. I felt a little faint afterwards so I had a bit of a lie down in the clinic before I went home. The nurse advised me that its normal to feel a little tired and flu-like for a few days afterwards so I've been relaxing with a good book as much as possible.

I'd like to tell you its all wrapped up neatly and I have the all clear, but I'm still at the waiting stage at the moment but should hear back within a week or so. I'm not too worried right now as CIN and even cervical cancer is very treatable if caught early enough. I found the Jo's Trust website to be invaluable for advice and information about treatment and the illness itself and can't recommend it enough for anyone going through similar health issues. The main thing I'd like you to take from reading this post is never to skip a smear. It's all too easy to get the letter and pop it in a drawer and forget all about it, but its also really easy to pick up the phone and schedule your appointment straight away. Please, please, please, don't miss your smear!

Update - I've had my results back and although they found something a little more serious than what I'd first been diagnosed with and had hoped, I had another little procedure to have it all removed and margins were clear (so that only normal tissue is left and no nasty bits) and I have checkups in 3 months to make sure it hasn't come back again. After that I'll have another checkup in 6 months and then a year then hopefully I'll be back to normal.

If you have been affected by anything I've discussed in this post, would like to know more or just fancy a chat please feel free to send me an email or contact me on social media.

Normal beauty service shall resume shortly and I look forward to sharing all my favourite products and amazing new launches with you!

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