Girl Talk

Girl Talk

I think it’s time for some girl talk. Real talk. Talk that doesn’t happen enough. We need some honesty up in here!

I have been dealing with something scary for the past few weeks, and while I haven’t been quiet about it, I haven’t been screaming it from the roof tops either. Half because I don’t like broadcasting every bit of my life and half because I guess part of me was doing it because men don’t exactly like reading it? But then I thought, who cares what makes them uncomfortable? If this saves the life of someone they care about, I don’t actually care if the thought of a woman’s cervix makes them squirm. This is real life and if we aren’t sharing real experiences to help others, what are we even doing?

I was a few months overdue for my pap smear, because life, so I didn’t think anything of it when I went in for my appointment. Then a few days later I got that call. The call that you don’t want because you know that if it is all clear that they usually don’t call you. I got that call. I happened to be paying for my petrol at the time so I heard bits and pieces.

Abnormal cells. Level 3. Pre cancerous. Cervical cone biopsy. Hospital. Surgery. Anaesthetic.  

My heart stopped. I felt sick. Was this really happening?

I wasn’t thrilled to be having a cone biopsy, as I have a friend who had it before so I had a bit of an idea. The good thing about this procedure is that it shows the depth of the lesions and how advanced it is. It is a lot more reliable than the pap smear.

So I went in last Monday for my surgery. Must say I was more scared for my results than the actual surgery. It’s the waiting that is the killer! Even now, I’m sitting here waiting and not knowing and it is the worst feeling ever. Followed closely by wearing pads and feeling like you’re in a nappy 24/7. Not cool! I’m all about NOT knowing what is going to happen step by step. The anaesthetist is the opposite. “So you’re going to be given some oxygen, then we will put the IV in and you’ll start to go to sleep quite quickly. Then we will put the tube down your throat because you won’t be breathing but the ventilator will breathe for you, so when you wake up your throat might be a little scratchy. We will keep you under with gas and then turn it down for you to wake up.” Ummm thanks that wasn’t scary at all! Even though you know you’re assisted whilst under, the really raw and real imagery is not needed 5 minutes before going into theatre thanks. I came out of it ok, but he greatly under exaggerated the “scratchy throat” part. It was more like, you might wake up with your throat feeling like you’ve had a throat infection for a week with infected tonsils. Not cute. Not fun.

I was in the ward for the rest of the day and finally got home that afternoon. I crawled into bed with my new nappies and slept for hours. When doctors prescribe medication I don’t question it. Two ultraset 3x a day? Thanks! Nick thought it was a lot but who am I to disagree with the doctor? Also, who wants to be in pain? Lets just say I slept well every night.

 

Girl Talk

Best company! Isn’t it funny how they always know when you’re not well?

 

Here’s what they do for a cone biopsy:

A cone biopsy is done to determine how deeply cancer cells have spread into tissue beneath the surface of the cervix. It is also used to treat very small, early-stage tumours. It is called cone biopsy because a cone-shaped piece of tissue is removed from the cervix.
The cone biopsy is usually done under a general anaesthetic and involves a day or overnight stay in hospital. Results are usually available in a week.

There are different levels for the cells. Mine was the CIN3 level, which they found from the pap smear so we will see if it matches from the biopsy. This is basically two levels below cancer! This can grow from a level one to level 3 in a few years. That’s why it is SO important to get your pap smear every year, so they can prevent it. My biopsy was 2cm wide and 1.5cm deep and the good news was that they got the whole lesion and abnormal cells out for the biopsy. Now its just a waiting game to find out if its worse than they expected or not.

Different levels
CIN 1: Slightly abnormal cells are found on the surface of the cervix. CIN 1 is not cancer and usually goes away on its own without treatment. Sometimes it becomes cancer and spreads to nearby normal tissue. CIN 1 is sometimes called low-grade or mild dysplasia. Also called cervical squamous intraepithelial neoplasia 1.

CIN 2: Moderately abnormal cells are found on the surface of the cervix.  CIN 2 is not cancer, but may become cancer and spread to nearby normal tissue if not treated. Treatment for CIN 2 may include cryotherapy, laser therapy, loop electrosurgical procedure (LEEP), or cone biopsy to remove or destroy the abnormal tissue. CIN 2 is sometimes called high-grade or moderate dysplasia. Also called cervical squamous intraepithelial neoplasia 2.

CIN 3: Severely abnormal cells are found on the surface of the cervix.  If not treated, these abnormal cells may become cancer and spread to nearby normal tissue. Treatment for CIN 3 may include cryotherapy, laser therapy, loop electrosurgical procedure (LEEP), or cone biopsy to remove or destroy the abnormal tissue. CIN 3 is sometimes called high-grade or severe dysplasia. Also called cervical squamous intraepithelial neoplasia 3 and stage 0 cervical carcinoma in situ.
Side effects of a cone biopsy: You may have some light bleeding or cramping for a few days after the cone biopsy. You have to avoid doing anything strenuous for a few weeks, as this could cause the bleeding to become heavier or start again. Basically you need scar tissue to form where the cone was cut out, so the more still you are the better. You can imagine how hard this is for me, but who wants to be walking around feeling like a marshmallow for longer than need be?

So I really hope that we can all talk more openly about all things cervical, because I didn’t know this was as common as it is. I only knew of one person before I had this cone biopsy, but now I’ve heard of so many other people since I’ve been talking about it.

Real talk? Book that pap smear you haven’t had for two years, or nine or fourteen —> You know who you are! It’s really not that big a deal, it is so much quicker than a mammogram and way less painful! Look after your health now. Look after YOURSELF now! Prevent it rather than cure it.

If you’re in Durban and you’re looking for an affordable option let me know as I have two options for different budgets thanks to Jenna and Delia for sharing!

 

Have you had this procedure? How was it for you?

 

If you want to get social you can say hi on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

If you’re a girl, come join our girl’s Facebook group: Gi Jane Girls

 

**** UPDATE ****

My results came back and they are CLEAR! He confirmed that it was CIN3 and that he had to take out the abnormal cells to the size of 2cm x 1.5cm. That to me is still quite big in the cervix scheme of things. I now have to go every 3 months for a pap smear to check that the cells didn’t spread and that they don’t come back. So it will be a very paranoid week every 3 months!

Tell your friends to get checked and to put it in their diary every year. Don’t put it off!

Follow:

32 Comments

  1. Zandile Dlamini
    November 15, 2016 / 9:12 pm

    What are the odds that I’d bump into this article? I just had my surgery today. My next check up is in two weeks, to see if the cancerous cells are all gone or not. I’m crossing fingers that the results will be good results.

    So far I feel good, I feel tired and have some period like symptoms but for the most part I’m coping pretty well. I’ve been able to walk around a lot and haven’t had much bleeding. I’ve learnt my lesson about pap smears though. I will never take them for granted.

    • GI_Jane
      November 15, 2016 / 9:27 pm

      Ah how amazing is that timing! It’s so much more common than we think but no one talks about it! Time to change that 💛 Definitely! It saves lives, so we need to remember to go every year. Hope you’re feeling 100% really soon! Let me know how you go xx

  2. November 15, 2016 / 10:23 pm

    It’s so brave of you for putting this out there! I delayed my pap smear for almost 2 years, cos like you say, life, and as I waited for the results I realised how foolish that was! I hope your results bear good news!

    • GI_Jane
      November 16, 2016 / 5:36 am

      Thanks so much Hun! One of the girls said that it’s a good idea to book if for your birthday every year so you don’t forget and it’s basically a gift to yourself. Such a good idea!

  3. Caitlin Jean
    November 16, 2016 / 4:44 am

    Knowledge is power!
    The more we talk about things like this, the more awareness is raised for both men and women. I couldn’t believe that some of my friends still have never had a pap smear by the age of 30. I highly recommend Disa Health Care Clinic for those in Joburg.
    Sending positive vibes for the results.

    • GI_Jane
      November 16, 2016 / 5:38 am

      I know it’s crazy hey! My one friend hasn’t been for 14yrs since her last child. So I’m glad that she’s booking now because of me being open about it. It’s so so overlooked. Everyone worried about breast cancer but not cervical. Thanks for sharing, I’ll share it with the Joburg girls xxx

  4. Kandis
    November 16, 2016 / 5:52 am

    Guilty!
    Calling Doc today!
    Only when I carefully & slowly read the different Levels, did this get very scary, very quickly.

    You are so brave🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼
    Sending Love & Light your way.

    • GI_Jane
      November 16, 2016 / 6:12 am

      Very scary! I’m two below cancer. TWO! And that could creep up in two years if I let it! So proud of you xxx

  5. Lucinda Singh
    November 16, 2016 / 6:09 am

    Thank u Jane for sharing and being amazingly brave x I am a guilty party of not doing a pap in about 3 years. But I have booked at appt for month end though. Sending positive energy to you and for your results… xo

    • GI_Jane
      November 16, 2016 / 6:14 am

      Ah so good! Well done for making that appointment. We don’t realize how important it is. I’m calling the doc today for my results because I can’t wait anymore! Will update everyone xxx

  6. November 16, 2016 / 7:59 am

    Jane. Thank you for sharing this. And thank you for the kick up the bum I needed to just book. I’ve never gone for one, and I know I need to, and my go to excuse is always finances and it’s awkward and uncomfortable. Please may you send me your 2 affordable options? I will send you that diary entry asap! Xx

    • GI_Jane
      November 16, 2016 / 2:58 pm

      Ah I’m so glad this has given you that kick! Going to whatsapp now xx

  7. Lynda
    November 16, 2016 / 12:40 pm

    Thank you for sharing..

    Having had an emergency hysterectomy after the birth of my 4th child, it is easy to forget about getting the girl bits checked out.. no monthly reminder to remind you that you need to book an appointment and here I sit, 10 years later. I don’t even have a Gynae anymore. I will be asking around for referrals and booking an appointment as soon as possible.

    • GI_Jane
      November 16, 2016 / 2:59 pm

      Ah Lynda that must have been so traumatic! Where are you based?

      • Lynda
        November 16, 2016 / 3:23 pm

        It was horrible at the time, but knowing we were finished having children was a relief and I didn’t have to be sad about not being able to have any more. The pain and inability to do what I wanted to was worse and when they say it takes 6 weeks to recover they weren’t kidding, although being combined with a c-section may have had something to do with that.. I am based in Benoni and there are a fair amount of gynaes around but I am out the loop of who is good etc.

        • GI_Jane
          November 16, 2016 / 4:10 pm

          That probably did have something to do with it. Shame! That was my biggest fear, waking up and him telling me it was worse and they had to take more or do a hysterectomy because it’s happened to others. I don’t have kids yet so I was so scared! A Pap smear can be done by a GP or a nurse as well. I’ll be going to a nurse because I now have to go every 3 months and it’s a bit costly at the gynae

  8. Kirsten Bester
    November 16, 2016 / 1:48 pm

    So brave! Well done for talking about the uncomfortable things for as long as it takes for them to not be uncomfortable anymore. Talking about our health should never be shameful, what is shameful is keeping quiet and hushing yourself cos you’re worried or scared you will upset someone. Nobody ever saved a life by saving a whole bunch of other people’s feelings!

    • GI_Jane
      November 16, 2016 / 3:00 pm

      Thanks Kirsten! I was super nervous but so many girls are booking their appointments so it makes me so happy it’s helping people! I totally agree. We only talk about the nice and showey things. Time to change that xx

  9. Sarah
    November 17, 2016 / 6:52 am

    Yay for open and honest!! If you have inspired just one person to make that appointment you may just be responsible for saving a life.
    Awesome!
    I’m pretty good about the check ups and reading this just reminded me why.
    Xxx

    • GI_Jane
      November 17, 2016 / 10:49 am

      7 girls have already booked because of this so I’m SO glad I shared it <3 Thank you!

  10. Sarah
    November 17, 2016 / 10:45 am

    Thanks for posting this.. It is really informative and all women need to know the importance of looking after their cervical health and get checked out regularly. I had an abnormal pap result last year was just a mild infection which was treated with antibiotics but it is still super scary getting the phone call that you need to come in for further tests. Luckily I fell pregnant a month after getting an abnormal pap and my beautiful daughter is 5 months old now. Sorry that you had to go through that awful procedure but I hope you get a clean bill of health soon. 🙂

    • GI_Jane
      November 17, 2016 / 10:50 am

      Thanks so much Hun! Yes super scary! So important to just get it done <3

  11. Saaj
    November 18, 2016 / 9:52 am

    Thank you for sharing, you opened my eyes I never knew how important it is to do a pap,

    • GI_Jane
      November 19, 2016 / 6:46 am

      You’re so welcome! Please share with all your friends and make sure you all go every year xxx

  12. February 4, 2017 / 1:01 pm

    I had a pap smear just before you wrote this and they found abnormal cells and gave me antibiotics and said I must come back. Didn’t think too much of it and had the next pap smear today. If they come back abnormal again it’s off to the gynae next week for further tests. So damn nervous but rereading your post has helped me a bit. Holding thumbs it’s all okay and whatever I have I have caught it in time 🙁

    • GI_Jane
      February 4, 2017 / 1:23 pm

      Ah my friend! It is so scary to go through, but it’s out of our control so we just have to have faith! Hopefully it was just the time of the month you had it last time that caused the abnormal reading. Let me know how it goes!xx

      • February 4, 2017 / 1:43 pm

        It’s super scary but immediately thought of reading your post again 🙂 Glad your results came back fine. Will keep you posted xxx

        • GI_Jane
          February 4, 2017 / 2:27 pm

          Thanks Hun <3 It's so natural to be nervous. I have my 3 month Pap smear this month and I'm so nervous it's come back! So stay positive, and try not think about it too much. It's the worst part!xx

          • February 6, 2017 / 6:53 pm

            I am booked in at the gynae for Thursday. Had a little meltdown after work but okay now. I am certain your tests will come back clear and you will be fit and healthy xxx keep me posted okay?

  13. August 11, 2017 / 11:43 am

    Shame, I went through the same thing, but I didn’t have the cone biopsy, my gynae went straight in with the laser treatment and lasered it all, followed by a D & C. I have no idea why he went with that option, but I was in agony afterwards, and had to do the appointment every 3 months until he was happy.
    Queue up 3 years later, and while that is sorted, I now have been told I have stage 3 endometriosis, and have had one surgery in August last year to remove it, and it’s grown back already, despite having a Mirena put in. Second opinion gynae has told me I’ll have to take a rather pricey drug for at least 6 months to try and kill it off. Apparently if I don’t, I’ll be in pain, AND not be able to have kids!
    Times like these that you feel your lady parts are just trying purposefully to not be part of the family grrrrrrrrrrrr…

    Hope you’re less stressed now!
    https://sugarandspicelifestyleblog.wordpress.com/

    • GI_Jane
      August 14, 2017 / 7:41 pm

      Ah my word! It’s so stressful and scary 🙁 Sorry you had to go through that! Endometriosis is so hectic, sending you healing vibes! You’ve just reminded me I’m due for my next 3 month check up! Thank you!xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *