If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time you will know I am a big advocate of the home HPV test and my friend Danielle wrote a really good piece reviewing this when she was involved in the trial back in 2014 Danielle’s Home Test Kit Review. The test she took showed HPV which meant she was called in to have a sample of cells taken by her GP. This came back normal and she was discharged for 3 years. She then had her second smear in late 2017 and then was recalled again in March this year.
I was in contact with Danielle quite a bit during this period as the wait times in the UK had been running between 6-8 weeks and I could tell she was very anxious as to what the outcome would be. One day in late April she sent me a copy of her results letter explaining she had severely abnormal cells and HPV. I did my best to reassure her and prepare her for the fact that she may need to have a procedure to remove the abnormal cells.
Here’s Danielle’s account of what she went through:
The letter received following my smear confirmed I had high grade dyskarosis. I immediately panicked as I didn’t know what this was and was referred for a colposcopy. Two weeks later I went for my appointment. I took the day off work and my partner came with me. This really helped settle my nerves. He was so attentive and reassuring which really calmed me down. I arrived at St Mary’s gynaecology unit and waited in the foyer there for around 20 minutes which felt like forever.
When my name was called I went straight in to see my Consultant Dr Winters. There were 4 other ladies in the room I believe 3 were nurses and 1 trainee. It was kind of daunting having 5 people there whilst you have your legs a kimbo 🤣
I sat down and Dr Winters confirmed I had high grade dyskarosis and would therefore carry out the colposcopy and LLETZ, if she thought that was necessary after seeing my cervix close up. She read through a disclaimer and asked me to sign.
Once it started I remember one lady who was super lovely spoke to me through the whole procedure and even complimented me on the colour of my lippy. She took my mind right off what was happening. We even laughed as the machine they used to heat the wire and cut my cervix didn’t work at first! It was like some comedy sketch with them pressing buttons but eventually they found a loose connection and were able to start the procedure which took around 30 minutes.
Once it was finished I got changed and sat with Dr Winters for maybe 5 minutes she drew a diagram of the area she had removed and explained she would give me a call in 4 weeks with the results. She also gave me a leaflet of aftercare and what to look out for in terms of infection The nurses made sure I was ok before walking me out to a waiting room where my partner was waiting for me. We went home and I had a brew and took some painkillers
I had a long wait for results and was very anxious during this time, it did send my mind into overdrive and caused me to become quite stressed about the outcome. I was told 4 weeks for my results but had to wait 7 weeks which made me worse. But as they say no news is good news.
I often think to myself that had it not been for that trial and little kit then Danielle’s cervical abnormalities may not have been diagnosed! As unpleasant and stressful an experience she’s had I know she’s is relieved and grateful that this was discovered at the earliest possible stage.
In fact I think that Danielle’s experience could give us an insight in to the future of cervical screening. Using the home HPV kit to make sure even the busiest of women are screened. Then identifying those at higher risk and screening them at more frequent intervals and treating any abnormalities when they arise. It certainly worked for Danielle anyway 💚