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"You must push for results if you suspect something's wrong"

4 minute read
"You must push for results if you suspect something's wrong"

Published at 6:00am 26th January 2020. (Updated at 8:44am 26th January 2020)

A Guildford woman who survived cervical cancer is warning others to follow their instincts and insist on getting checked out properly if they suspect something is not right.

58 year old Paula Jarvis tells Eagle her story during Cervical Cancer Awareness Week.

In 2017 the mum, from Merrow, noticed post-menopausal bleeding, and was worried it could be cancer.

She went to see her doctor and was booked in for a smear test.

She received a letter two weeks later to say the material they had got from the smear test was inadequate and that the test needed to be repeated.

But she was told she could not have it done for another three months in order to allow the cervix to settle down.

She went back more than three months later, and repeated the whole process, only to be told again the material was inadequate - and she would have to have it for a third time.

All the while she had still been having post-menopausal bleeding - and her fears were growing:

"I eventually went back to the surgery, I just felt this can't go on, and I ranted at the receptionist, and asked what are we going to do about it!"

"I was then booked in for an appointment with the doctor who trains the nurses to do smear tests - and by then the doctor had read my notes and saw I had post-menopausal bleeding.

"She said she was putting me on two weeks' emergency - and that was in May last year - I did end up with a fast-growing cancer of the cervix and had to have chemotherapy and brachytherapy last summer."

Paula is now clear of cancer, with five years of checks to ensure it has not returned.

"It changes your life, cancer, you don't know if it's going to come back."

She now wants to urge others to push for a result, if they feel something is not right.

"I feel like that rant in reception probably saved my life.

"It seemed like that medical practice were happy just to let me drift along and keep me coming back for an occasional smear test which would show up inadequate.

"I feel like women in my situation must not just let it go on, you must stand up for yourself if you know something is wrong with your body.

"You've got to push to get results.

"If I had found out earlier, I might not have had to have chemotherapy - but I don't know this for sure."

Paula said there are plenty of messages out there for younger women to go for smear tests.

But she said even though she had gone for smear tests all her adult life, she had never heard of an inadequate smear:

"I wonder how many woman are getting inadequate smears, and what impact is that having on them if they do have cancer, and how long is it still there till the cancer is finally treated?"

Her message to others out there who suspect their health is not all it should be is this:

"You know your body - better than the doctor.

"We read about how busy doctors are, patients' waiting rooms are overflowing, so you have to take responsibility.

"If you feel something is badly wrong you need to flag it up with them because you are one of hundreds of patients.

"You've got to stamp your foot!"

Check out the website for the charity GRACE for information on gynaecological cancers.