In T-2 weeks I’ll be hopping (OK, sulking) into the stirrups at my yearly physical. When’s the last time you got a Pap?
It’s Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, which means it’s an excellent time to think about the last time you had a Pap smear and, if it’s been too long, call up your doctor for an appointment. Of all the tests we’re subjected to, the Pap is definitely one of the most anxiety-inspiring. There’s nothing comfortable about stripping down, getting spread-eagle and then experiencing the odd scrapey feeling of the Pap. To help spread awareness of the dedicated week, the Canadian Cancer Society sent me a “Keep Calm and Get The Pap” kit.
Along with an informational postcard about Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, the team sent along cozy leopard! socks (to keep your feet warm in the stirrups), calming long life oolong tea from DAVIDsTEA and super-indulgent (and antioxidant-rich) 70% Cacao Lindt chocolate. While this care pack isn’t getting me any more excited for my upcoming appointment, it has been a great conversation-starter around the office. The men who sit around me are now well-versed in “the freezing cold tool” and “the clicking noise” along with “the scrapey feeling”.
All that said, there’s an extremely good reason to #getthepap this year: while 1 in 45 women will develop the disease in their lifetime, the odds of successful treatment are much higher if it’s caught early & treated right away. All it takes is a quick test – you’re done in under 15 minutes! If you haven’t had a Pap yet, it’s a fairly simple procedure.
- An instrument called a speculum (a clear plastic or metal device) is gently put into the vagina to widen it so that the upper part of the vagina and cervix can be seen.
- A small wooden stick or spatula is used to gently scrape the surface of the lower part of the cervix to pick up cells.
- A special brush, called a cytobrush (or cytobroom), is used to obtain cells from the inner part of the cervix (which leads into the uterus).
- The sample is sent to the laboratory to be examined under a microscope.
It’s not painful at all – you might feel a bit of a scraping feeling but it’s brief. In a few weeks, results are in. Those few minutes could save your life (and your fertility). Use this week to take care of yourself – call your doctor and book your yearly Pap if you haven’t already and remind your friends to #getthepap.