Go send that invitation when the woman is twenty, instead of thirty. My result was not good. Not even at all. I had PAP-4, which is a fairly dangerous, precancerous stage of cervical cancer.
Population screening and swabs. It’s one of those things that no woman wants or wants, and for some it’s not on their priority list at all. However, I wanted to dedicate a column to this topic, because it’s not as nice as it might be. After all, sooner or later every woman has to deal with it.
When we reach the age of 30 in the Netherlands, we are invited to have a cervical cancer screening. You will receive the message on your birthday. A very wonderful gift. I will not go into all the medical advantages or disadvantages of participating in such a study, but I can share my own experience.
When I was thirty years old I lived in Curaçao. As far as I know, they don’t screen residents there. I might be wrong in the end, but I’ve never received a letter stating that I was summoned. I don’t think I had any idea at the time, so I didn’t go to the doctor myself. This wasn’t a big deal, because when I lived in the Netherlands again – three years later – I actually went and got my PAP-1 score. Well, you don’t have to worry. I have no idea if HPV was actually found at the time, at least I haven’t heard anything about it (or forgotten about it).
Anyway, a woman close to me had a bad Pap smear result two years later. This was the first time I had heard of someone who didn’t do well. This was probably the first time I had ever heard anyone talk about it. In other words, PAP 3B: Not good. Referral to a gynecologist and treatment followed. Despite the fact that it wasn’t all that exciting and that the bad cells were removed after the treatment, it got me thinking. Maybe I should come back again. I don’t know why I had this feeling, after all I was there two years ago and then nothing was wrong. The doctor thinks so, too. It was something very slow growing. Actually it wasn’t necessary and besides: I had no complaints.
I said “just do it”.
Being stubborn is a good thing sometimes. Go against the advice. Maybe it was a life saver this time. My result was not good. Not even at all. I had PAP 4, a highly precancerous stage of cervical cancer.
‘How?’ I called on the phone. “I was there two years ago!”
The doctor had no answer, but I did get a referral. Fortunately, I was able to see my gynecologist very quickly, who kept calm and reassured me. He did not think that all this was terrible, he saw worse. Thank God it was still a preliminary stage and everything was meticulously cleaned. I was out again. I decided at that moment that I would talk about it and warn others. It’s not something to be ashamed of, and being open is always better, especially if you can help someone else with it.
So the conversation began. Throw it on the table in the team room at work, discuss it with girlfriends and nieces. guess what? There have been a lot of women who have also had a bad PAP result! In my immediate environment probably three-quarters of the women I spoke to about it. 90% of women get a good result, says the RIVM volume. Only 3% should go to a gynecologist. And the 10% that gets a bad result happens to all the women I know? How can this number be so low, but are the stories from my immediate environment so different? The reason for writing this column is an application from one of my nieces on our site Girls rules appgroup. She also received a less happy result from the doctor. Another one in a really long line of ladies who preceded her. How?
Without wanting to frighten anyone with this or be pedantic, please go to a population screening and take this smear. No, it’s not fun, it’s definitely not my hobby, but if you look at all the misery you can prevent… a bad result gives the opportunity for a cure and believe me, you really want it to get worse instead of the other results, with this one k word nobody wants to hear in his life. I think nowadays you even have the option of ordering a self-sampling test. Do it! genuinely. There are actually no reasons not to participate, because it is all about your health. I even think they should bring population screening ten years ahead, just send that invitation when the woman is twenty, instead of thirty. But yes, that would be very expensive. The fact that we can go is of course a privilege indeed.
As soon as I give birth and can go again, I will go to the doctor. Just to check. Both times after my treatment at the gynecologist – four years ago – I had a suitable PAP 1. I was allowed to re-enter the population screening, without additional screenings. However, it’s still exciting to me, because I actually moved from PAP 1 to PAP 4 in a relatively short time. And again, this is not fun. A Pap smear or result may make you nervous, but it’s always better than burying your head in the sand and then hearing you had cancer when it could have been prevented.
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