Just in time

For Gemma Anderson, 34, from South Shields, this was the most im­por­tant test of her life…

Pick Me Up! Special - - Contents -

Sit­ting alone in the doc­tor’s wait­ing room, I was shak­ing with nerves. It will be OK, I thought. It’s just a sim­ple pro­ce­dure.

I was 32 and was in for my first ever smear test.

I’d been putting it off for years, think­ing it was go­ing to be a painful, embarrassing ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘I feel healthy any­way,’ I’d said to my hus­band Ge­orge, 36. But he in­sisted. ‘Please just book a test,’ he’d pleaded with me weeks be­fore. ‘Do it for me?’ I thought about it more, but was still so scared of the whole thing. My

friends would of­ten bring it up, too, and they couldn’t be­lieve I’d never had one.

‘It’s over so quickly and it doesn’t hurt at all,’ one said.

So even­tu­ally, I re­lented and booked my­self in. But now, I was so ner­vous. Go­ing in to see the nurse, she told me to lie back on the bed and open my legs. This is a bit awk­ward, thought, em­bar­rassed.

It was slightly un­com­fort­able, but I just closed my eyes and thought about some­thing else. ‘All done!’ the nurse said a few min­utes later. ‘That was quick!’ I cried. I even felt a bit silly for putting it off for so long. But, two weeks later, I re­ceived a call from the doc­tor to say that my re­sults were ab­nor­mal and that I needed to go to the hos­pi­tal for a biopsy. I knew that biop­sies were fairly com­mon, so I wasn’t that wor­ried when I went to the hos­pi­tal. But when they called me back to dis­cuss my re­sults, I knew some­thing was wrong. And I was right. ‘You have a tu­mour on your cervix that’s be­tween 4cm and 7cm,’ the doc­tor said.

I clutched Ge­orge’s hand, ter­ri­fied.

‘But we caught it early and the can­cer hasn’t spread,’ he went on.

‘We should be able to get rid of the mass with a rad­i­cal hys­terec­tomy.’ My head was spin­ning.

I’m only 32, I thought. Now I won’t ever be able to have chil­dren… Ge­orge and I were dev­as­tated. ‘I should have done the smear test sooner,’ I cried.

But for now, I had to deal with what was fac­ing me, so in Septem­ber 2016, I un­der­went a hys­terec­tomy.

Luck­ily, the op­er­a­tion was a suc­cess and doc­tors had re­moved the whole tu­mour.

To­day, I still have to go for reg­u­lar check-ups to make sure the can­cer hasn’t come back, and Ge­orge and I can only have a baby via a sur­ro­gate.

It was a huge blow, but to be hon­est, I just feel lucky to be alive.

If I’d have put off my smear test for any longer, my tu­mour would have grown and I would prob­a­bly be dead by now.

I want to en­cour­age other women to have a smear test reg­u­larly and not avoid it. I’ve re­alised now how im­por­tant it ac­tu­ally is.

Hav­ing the test saved my life, and I want to help oth­ers be­fore it’s too late.

Why had I put it off for so long?

We still hope to have a fam­ily

I needed a hys­terec­tomy

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