Janey’s February Letter: We MUST Educate Our Girls to Get Checked

Well – farewell January!  You are without a doubt the longest dreariest month of the year, and now it’s time to start looking forward to happy times ahead. ( I’m not crazy about February either – but at least it has the decency to be short! ).

I have woken in a remarkably good mood.  This is not a normal occurrence as –  now especially,  I tend to bend creak and groan until midday – or at least my fourth cup of coffee; today’s different – and I’m hugely optimistic this feeling is going to last.

As I sit here typing and drinking my hot water and lemon,  ( Tea? – BAH!…get thee behind me Satan! ), I’m beginning to have confidence in the new health care regime I’ve applied over the last week.  I think the only good thing about January is that we inevitably to do something to improve our lot – and for me, it’s my health.

Although I have always been sensible – it’s only now that I’ve decided to go to the next stage, and actually follow all the expensive advice I’ve sought over the years.

Naturally with my MS, and the incredible joy of my new grandbabies ( another one cooking…due in June ) I want to be fit and able enough to enjoy them.

The days of wobbly grannies sitting on the beach knitting are long gone, sadly, as it sounds quite nice.  These days they are replaced by 60 somethings looking like 40 somethings with successful careers and the occasional toy boy – if they’re lucky.

My kids are really supportive in my determination to take more care of myself. For as long as they remember ( apparently ) I have been pretty strict with their healthcare.  More so than a normal mother according to them.

I do remember that when other kids were going to the doctors after a bang to the head, mine would be frogmarched off for a scan –  I never saw the point of taking risks.

I used to get a lot of flack for this from the other mothers in my group.  “ You’re such a worrier, it won’t be good for the kids – you mustn’t overreact – you’ll make them paranoid”.

We none of us can alter the way we are with our kids, and my reaction to them was ‘you do it your way and I’ll respect that – but please keep your opinions regarding mine to yourself’ ….or at least something like that!

So it was natural for me when Bink’s complained of a tummy ache to run through the possible causes.

I’m not mad – I wouldn’t worry if it was just the night after a curry – but after quizzing her I decided to take it seriously.

I followed the habit of a lifetime and marched her off for a cervical smear test.  She was only 23 and the NHS don’t start testing girls until the age of 25, but with my better safe than sorry policy, I made sure she was tested.  Now I’m not for one moment saying that I suspected she had a problem in that area but wanted to rule everything out.

The results came back saying that she had tested positive for the highest grade abnormalities. The was a huge shock of course and I remember her crying and panicking.

Cervical cancer rates in under 35s soar 60% as the number having smear tests fall to an all-time low.

Long story short – she went in and had treatment, and then had to go back again after a while to have more.   She was eventually given the all clear, and then the wonderful news was that she was expecting my precious granddaughter India.  This happy outcome would be unlikely to have happened had she not had a test – and naturally, that terrifies me.

The not so great news regarding the subject of smear tests these days is that fewer girls – and women –  than ever are having them.

The number of young women diagnosed with cervical cancer has soared in the last decade. Many think it will be painful, some are too embarrassed – and some just don’t realise the tests are necessary.

There is a great deal of ignorance around the subject and it’s so dangerous.  This is all so sad and worrying.  The most treatable form of this disease is going undiagnosed in so many, simply because of a lack of knowledge courage or conviction.

Let me, with my years reassure you.  It isn’t a lovely experience, of course, so much of being a woman isn’t.  But it’s over very quickly, your doctor has seen them all before and the consequences of putting it off are so much worse.

And Mothers, Grannies, Aunties and Sisters – you have my permission to nag, moan and educate as much as you can. Get your girls jabbed and get them tested – even if doctors say they’re too young.

It’s what we need to do to protect a whole generation.




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