Smears, Cancer and Butt Cameras

It is not often that you have a conversation about smear tests or cancer and find yourself laughing; however I have a friend that no matter what the subject, we end up howling.

Even smear tests.

Even having to have a camera in the butt.

Even cancer.

Because, even though each of these subjects is scary and horrifying and utterly awful, each one still, like most things in life, still has elements of humor in it.

And, let’s be honest, if you don’t learn to laugh at the shit bits in life, it is very easy to let it take over.

I have had cervical cancer in my life since I was young. My Mum had cervical cancer and thankfully, she had a full hysterectomy and is cancer free, mainly because she caught it early and it was dealt with immediately.

Because of this, I have been having regular smears since I was about 15 years old. They are never pleasant, but then, what part of going to the doctor ever is?

This is not a reason to not go because, you know what’s more intrusive, uncomfortable and unpleasant that a 10 minute smear test? Cancer, that’s what and trust me, you will see a lot more doctors and have a lot more embarrassing moments with cancer than you will at a smear test.

So, how do we change the way we look at the smear test?

I for one would quite like to change the name.

Smmmeeeeaaaaaarrrrrr. Just sounds disgusting, when really it isn’t disgusting at all. You lay on your back, drop your pants, open your legs and someone puts a little tiny brush inside you and wiggles it around a little.

It’s a cross between having sex and flossing your teeth with one of those little brush things you can buy! Both of which we do all the time. Hell, most of our time is spent talking about having sex or not having sex and that doesn’t save our lives and with all the juices, sex is actually grosser than a smear!

To put it quite clearly, if you can get your vagina out for a guy, you can get your vagina out for a NURSE, who is probably going to be a woman (which you can request by the way) and who will not only have her own vagina but will have seen thousands of others.

Is yours special in anyway? Probably not.

I serve my smear nurse at the restaurant I work at on a regular basis. Her daughter Pink Lemonade In Old Style Glassserves me drinks at the local pub.   The only time it has been weird was when she asked me if raspberry lemonade was pink and I had a flash back to her telling me that my vagina was ‘lovely and pink and healthy’.

This is also a woman that I have passed wind in front of.

Pretty much in her face.

Involuntarily and caught completely off guard whilst she was performing my smear. Not my shining moment but it is one of the worst things you imagine you are going to do whilst it happens and I’m sharing it to let you know it doesn’t matter. I didn’t die. She didn’t die. Nobody died. Life went on even though I farted at a nurse.

And if you have a baby, you will probably shit in front of a room full of people and women actively WANT this experience so put it in perspective!

I have been lucky enough to always have clear results. So of course I can laugh about it.

But my friend was not so lucky. She has cervical cancer and she can still laugh about it all.

Not always, but even in her darkest moments, where she sits and tells me that she has been imaging death, we find a way to make it funny.

Because you have to. It’s not insensitive; mostly because we love each other so much there is no such thing as insensitive between us anymore and also because she knows and I know we are both coping with it in our own, humorous way.

Close up of a cow standing in a field“We all die mate, no point imagining it. At this stage there is no more point imagining that you are gonna die from this then sitting about wondering if you will one day be murdered by a cow……….

…….and they kill thousands of people every YEAR”

When it comes to talking about doctors putting things inside us, we all go through the same process. We get scared, we laugh about it, we man up and we get on with it.

It was no different when my Mum and my friend both told me, in the same day in fact, that they were both booked in for a colonoscopy or as we all decided to call it, poo cam.

Because it’s funnier and therefore easier to deal with.

My Mum handled it all in a fabulous way as only a woman of her age, that has had two kids and countless operations and smears can; completely in her stride.

“Vikki, I’ve had so many it doesn’t even phase me anymore! Do you know how many people have seen my insides in 56 years?….plus I get an extra day off work this week!”

My friend, as it is her first, was not so accepting

“Don’t want people lookin up my pooper”

Either way, it was going to happen.

As we discussed her poo cam appointment, we talked about the fact that the people operating the camera (poop cam people) have not only chosen this profession but have trained for it and have decided many butts ago that this is their vocation in life. Looking in your butt. They don’t care and neither should you.

“Lol it’s not random people mate, it’s a poo cam expert”

By the end of the conversation, she had laughed so much that I think she had eased up a bit on how she felt about it. Sure, she was still going to be scared and nervous and not want to go, but we had taken something that she didn’t want to talk about, and turned it into something we could laugh at and in a way it made it a little bit easier for her.

As women, we are known for being able to talk to each other about anything. Periods, vaginas, boobs, fat……and it’s great that we do.

What we don’t do is give an honest account of it. Every story I ever heard about a smear was horrifying and it really isn’t.

“It’s so painful and embarrassing”

“Oh my GOD it was awwwfffuuulll”

As someone that has had over 25 smears from many doctors and nurses, I can tell you now. The truth is this.

You will be embarrassed, but for about 20 seconds. It is slightly uncomfortable and the speculum (the thing they use to open your vagina slightly) will probably be cold. Yes, you can feel the cotton bud but it feels about 1000 times less than when you let a man touch your cervix with his penis.

It’s over in about 40 seconds.

That’s it.

Done.

Not awful or horrifying or soul destroying.

Something that takes less time than getting served in Starbucks and something that could save your life.

I think we need to tell the embarrassing and funny stories that come out of these experiences and learn to laugh at rather than fear them.

Like everything in life, it is as awful as you choose to see it.

And remember this next time you go; if I can fart in a nurse’s face and survive and my friend can have cancer and still be laughing about it all then YOU can book an appointment, get checked and deal with whatever the outcome is.

For more medically accurate information on smear tests and cervical cancer visit:

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening-test/pages/introduction.aspx

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cancer-of-the-cervix/Pages/Introduction.aspx

If you would like to share you experiences then feel free, the more we talk about these things, the more lives we could help to save!

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12 thoughts on “Smears, Cancer and Butt Cameras

  1. Goodness, yes! I dread that appointment every time to the point where it makes me sick to my stomach. Then afterwards I am like why do I do that to myself?!?

  2. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the title but you have certainly brought an interesting, humorous perspective on uncomfortable topics and situations. I love my OB/Gyn dearly, but I still get slightly queasy at my annual well-woman. Like you said, the awkwardness lasts about 20 seconds and before you know it, the procedure is over and done. Great post, thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks Nicole! I have been touching on some awkward topics lately but I do feel that they are the things that need to be written and about and read even if people still don’t want to talk about them!

      Thank you for sharing your experience and taking the time to comment 🙂

  3. Love the part about murderous cows. Mostly because it’s true! Those suckers are evil (I married into a farming family… I learned quick how those stupid cows can kill you). Puts a lot of things into perspective.

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