Category: Health interviews

‘I didn’t know anyone else who had abnormal cervical cells’

World Cancer Day raises awareness of cancer detection, treatment and prevention. During Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2020, which took place in January, reports indicated the target for women aged 25-49 who attended screening in England is around 10% lower than the government’s 80% target.

Public Health England (PHE) launched the first ever national cervical screening campaign, ‘Cervical Screening Saves Lives’, in March 2019 after the number of women attending screening reached a 20-year low. The campaign focussed on eligible women under age 35, south Asian, black, and lesbian, bisexual women and those from poor backgrounds.

While cervical screening is not test for cancer, it helps prevent cancer by detecting the health of the cervix – the opening to the womb from the vagina; but there is still a mixture of fear and nonchalance towards the test, which became an NHS screening programme in 1988.

I spoke to Isha Webber, 30, from Woolwich in South London about her experience of  finding abnormal cells in her cervix and how it turned her into a gynaecological advocate, while studying for a family law qualification.

My first cervical screening test came back normal, so I was fine with the process…
I didn’t get a reminder letter but was at my doctors in June 2018 for a check-up because I was on antidepressants. While taking my blood pressure the nurse said, “Oh, the system says you’re due for a cervical screening test”, so I booked one for July.

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Never heard of it!

I do have an interest in health and science, so don’t get tired of the steady meander of health messages the government sends out. When I lived in New York last year I was actually surprised that there were hardly any on the TV, buses, Subway etc. I guess the agenda may be different in the US because Americans pay for their healthcare. In the UK sick people cost the government money because healthcare is ‘free’ via taxes. Smoking cessation is always on the NHS’ agenda, you may have seen the latest advert showing a man smoking a cigarette with a tumour growing out of it. I think it’s effective, but I’m not addicted to cigarettes, so it may impact me but whether it will scare the 20plus-a-day smoker is up for debate. Cancer is increasing in the developed world and we are hearing about it more and more; there are some diseases that don’t roll off your tongue as easily, the ones you’ve never heard of – they are neglected tropical diseases. Here are a few tongue twisters that you won’t find in a Christmas cracker:

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