Look After Your Nether Regions: I’m Now An Ambassador For Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust

Smear test; two words that are likely to either scare the bejeezus out of us or fill our minds with anxieties. This short procedure may not be
the best or most enjoyable way to spend a few minutes out of your day (I know I’d rather
be devouring a caramel machiatto,) but it has the potential to save your life.
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under the age of 35,
with around 3000 individuals being diagnosed with the disease every year. Although 75% of cases can be prevented by cervical screening and up to 90% of
pre-cancer cases can be picked up and treated with very little
inconvenience, one in four women aren’t attending their appointments. Our regular smear test can hugely increase our chance of
leading a happy, healthy, problem-free life, but so many of us are
skipping them altogether because of the fear of the unknown; rather worryingly, attendance is at a twenty year low.

With so much stigma, bad information and lack of understanding around cervical smears, it’s no wonder that we’re not having conversations with our loved ones about a potentially life-changing procedure. Over the last five years I’ve been extremely open with my own experiences, documenting a smear test that returned ‘abnormal’ and led to me having to have a procedure to remove the affected area; I was among the lucky ones that managed to pick up those abnormalities before they became cancerous (they were classified as stage four – there is no stage five, you just skip straight to cancer) so I know how important regular smear tests are.

Over the last few years I’ve continued to discuss this often misunderstood area and championed women attending their appointments no matter what; I’ve live streamed my smear, interviewed nurses, blogged my experience and even been on the national news discussing why it’s so vital to take the time out of your day to get tested. And it’s made a real difference: so many of you have been in touch to say you’ve attended a smear as a result, and many more have let me know your anxieties about the results have been settled.

It’s an issue I’m extremely passionate about and one I’ll continue to champion until cervical cancer has been completely eradicated, which is why I’m teaming up with Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and have become an ambassador for this incredible movement. As the only UK charity dedicated to women affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities, Jo’s Trust was established in 1999 by James Maxwell after his wife Jo passed away from cervical cancer. The charity was set up to fulfil Jo’s wish that every woman affected by cervical cancer could get the support and information they needed: not only do they provide essential information and support, but they campaign for awareness and legislative change alongside more traditional fundraising.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with them in the past, but as it’s reported smear test uptake is at a twenty year low I feel now is the right time to continue that relationship in a more formal capacity and use my channels to spread their good work. I want to break down barriers and start conversations, bust myths and provide as much information as possible – so over the coming months expect to see many posts about your nether regions. I’ll be working with them to encourage companies to sign up to their Time To Test pledge (which calls on employers to ensure their female employees can take time off to attend appointments – more info here) as well as helping to establish fundraising collaborations with key brands; most importantly though, I’ll be regularly talking about all the issues that surround cervical cancer and the HPV virus so that you’re armed with the information you need to start having conversations of your own.

I’ll be tagging all the content I create and starting a handy little tab up in the navigation bar too, so you can refer back to all the information easily – as well as sharing it with your girlfriends. Because you’re as much a part of making it a success and cutting through as I am. If you have a specific question, concern or comment to make then you can always contact me anonymously via email or social media, or go straight to the amazing team at Jo’s Trust via their website.

But let’s get this party started and make a real difference. I hope you’re ready to chat vaginas.

USEFUL LINKS

SMEAR TEST – THE FACTS

WHAT WILL HAPPEN DURING MY CERVICAL SCREENING?

RECEIVING THE RESULTS OF CERVICAL SCREENING

ABNORMAL CERVICAL CELLS & TREATMENT

GET INVOLVED WITH CAMPAIGNING & FUNDRAISING 

SIGN UP TO ‘TIME TO TEST’  

TEXT ‘JOTR01 £5’ TO 70070 TO DONATE

Find out more about Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust on their website: www.jostrust.org.uk

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9 Comments

  1. Pam Scalfi
    April 16, 2018 / 7:06 am

    After reading your first post on here about this, I booked myself an appointment with the work nurse and got it done, everything came back normal. A few of my work colleagues were also encouraged to do it (they were almost 30 and had never done it before!) so it is definitely a good thing to talk about more and more!Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

    • Hayley Hall
      April 16, 2018 / 7:50 am

      Definitely – it's so important, but so many people avoid going because of their fear or the unknown. We need to chat about it as much as possible!

  2. Kay
    April 16, 2018 / 7:22 am

    I loathe having it done but have never missed an appointment, the same for having a mammogram. I honestly can't understand why someone would miss such vital health checks. Obviously it it not pleasant and can be embarrassing but we all have so much more to live for, a couple of minutes being uncomfortable means that I can live longer and worry free in that area. It is not just about us too, our families and loved ones want us around. I have watched close friends and family die from cancer, although I was not in physical pain it was a traumatic experience watching my dad die. If there are simple things that we can do help us remain healthy and well then we should be doing them. x

    • Hayley Hall
      April 16, 2018 / 1:18 pm

      Absolutely nailed it Kay – it's so important.

  3. Amber
    April 16, 2018 / 9:45 am

    For me, the issue is that we’re being urged to go for smear tests, but the NHS ( in Scotland at least) clearly can’t cope with the tests already being carried out. I’m currently 3 weeks into what I’m told is likely to be a 6 week wait for the results of mine: I know this will sound like a totally hysterical reaction, but as someone with severe health anxiety, the wait is honestly ruining my life right now – I have literally cried all morning because of the anxiety it’s giving me. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely agree that women should be encouraged to attend smears (I’ve never missed one, despite the trauma it causes me), but i also feel that if the NHS wants more women to have smears, they really need to look hard at how they can make the process quicker and easier on us – I’m afraid to say that even although I know how important it is, the 6 week wait for my results this time has made me much less likely to have another one 🙁

  4. Janay Andre
    April 24, 2018 / 11:43 am

    I went for my first one last year (I'm 26) and it was honestly not as bad as I thought it would be, the nurse was very nice and talked me through it all and made me feel comfortable. I would definitely encourage all females who haven't yet had one, book an appointment just to make sure everything is OK. They had advised me that the results are taking up to 6 weeks at the time and they said that each week they were extending the wait time for results but mine came back in a reasonable time. Janay Andrex

    • Hayley Hall
      April 29, 2018 / 8:11 pm

      So glad you were able to get an appointment and were made to feel comfortable; often the anticipation makes it seem so much worse than it is. And that's great you got the results quite quickly too!

  5. Jenny Cole
    April 28, 2018 / 7:39 pm

    It's brilliant that you're working with Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust to champion going for a smear. It's such an important thing and we are so lucky to have access to this screening tool. I've been for two smear tests so far. My first one was awful – the nurse was really rough and it caused me a lot of pain and flashbacks to a previous traumatic event. I came out of that appointment vowing I would never have a smear test again. So when my second letter came in the post three years later, I completely freaked out. But I decided to go and see my GP and talk to her about my concerns. She was really understanding and, although she told me I didn't have to have it done if I really didn't want to, she gently encouraged me to give it another try. She even said that she would happily refer me to the hospital to have it done if that would make it easier. But I gave it a go with a new nurse and although it was still quite painful, she was much more gentle and was completely led by me. I came out feeling pretty empowered to be honest. Although I'm still anxious about having it done again, I now know that I can do it and that it doesn't have to be traumatic. Hopefully lots of people will see your content and book their own appointments too :)Jenny xxwww.jaffacat.co.uk

    • Hayley Hall
      April 29, 2018 / 8:13 pm

      I'm so sorry to hear your first appointment wasn't comfortable, but I'm so pleased you were able to get back for another one – your GP sounds amazing and I'm sure we could do with many more of her! Jo's Trust have some resources and help if you're concerned about discomfort or anything in the future, as well as a helpline, so do get in touch with them if you need to discuss any issues moving forward.

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