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Beake Speaks: smear tests and making jokes about serious matters

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Let’s make a day of it, said my friends. We could go for our appointments and then have a spot of lunch.

Sounds great. Especially if the appointments were to a spa for a swim and sauna or facial. But no this idea was for a group outing to have smear tests.

And then go to lunch. Well, I thought to myself, I’m not sure I’d fancy a jacket potato after that, and to be honest, at least the smear test examiner could offer to buy me dinner first.

Jenny Beake.
Jenny Beake.

I have a condition where I make jokes about serious matters as a way to deflect. So when I suggested perhaps going to the cinema afterwards and seeing Womb With A View it was met with icy glares. As was their reaction when I said I hope the medical business cards read ‘at your cervix.’ Smear. It’s an unpleasant word and not a good marketing focus.

There is nothing nice about the word smear so I am glad there is more positive sounding terminology.

If you say you are going for a cervical screening but pronounce cervical as Michael it sounds like you’re going to a film premier. Perhaps we should treat it with as much importance as that.

There are consequences to putting off this vital process as seen with the death of television celebrity Jade Goody.

You may have read my fellow intrepid reporter Eve Tawfick’s In the Market article in Tuesday’s March 29 paper.

She talks about the avoidance of having this procedure, which I can tell you, I have put off and cancelled a number of times.

Put simply it could be a matter of life and death for a procedure which lasts all of 10 minutes.

The medical practitioners are well trained and empathetic. If you happen to have a male practitioner, though perhaps this is rarer, you can take a chaperone.

It is a vulnerable area to be entrusted with and properly trained practitioners will ask you if you want to stop at any time and will ask if it’s ok to lock the door.

That’s to save the embarrassment of the postman popping in unexpectedly.

But we should be talking about cervical screening with each other. It affects your mother, your sister, your friends and it can be something that is made a lot easier by chatting about.

My friend is a health visitor and we often talk about perimenopause and cervical screenings and she was shocked I had cancelled appointments and developed a fear of going for the procedure.

When I talked to the medical practitioner she was able to understand my concerns and treat accordingly.

Cervix with a smile. You’re welcome.

Jenny Beake

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