look away now

because i'm going to talk about smear tests, and some of you won't be able to take it.

cervical cancer and, by association, smear tests have smashed their way into our public consciousness recently because of the cancer diagnosis and death of jade goody. apparently there has been something of a rise in young women attending clinics for smears since. whatever you might think about the public way in which jade did her illness, this must be a good thing. i want to urge young women to make sure that they take responsibility for this side of their health and overcome the embarrassment, suck it up, just go.

why do women not go for a smear? it's a relatively easy diagnostic test which could catch early a very nasty illness. well, because it's embarrassing. it is, in no way, the way that i wanted to spend my morning today and, let's be clear - having a smear test is not fun, it is not fun in any way. but, while it may not be fun, it is funny, perhaps if we dialled up the funny then more women wouldn't end up with stage 4 cervical cancer before they knew anything about it.

you ask any woman and they will have their farcical story to tell you, my best story involves the words 'i'm just going to get the long speculum', sheesh, really, great, that's just flippin bloody great. unsurprisingly, most of the time no one talks about smears, y'know, not top of the conversation starter list. but....all you have to say to a bunch of women at the school gate is 'i've got to go for a smear this morning' and if you didn't know them well before that moment, you know them fairly intimately afterwards.

there are sooooo many potentially hilarious moments, it really is a shame that we can't talk about it more openly - perhaps it would help with the general problem of getting women to go and bite the bullet - 'hey, you'll have some great party jokes afterwards......', but y'know, i'm guessing my speculum joke isn't going to come up at any dinner parties i'm going to in the near future. shame, cos one of the most hilarious stand up comic moments i remember was seeing ben elton do a bit on smear tests, and he's a bloke, but it was brilliant, unfortunately i can't find it on youtube or i would inflict it on you.

am i being a bit too full on here? what d'you think - smears a bit much for a faith blog? well tough. i warned you.

you see, there is a link between poverty, lack of education and the disproportionate deaths of young women. as a trustee of a peruvian charity for children, we see loads of women with gynae problems - many reasons contribute to this; there is suspicion of contraceptive methods, so women end up having loads of children very quickly and very young (i met a woman in her twenties with nine children and a prolapsed uterus), having sex at a younger age can increase your risk of cervical cancer, and of course, predominantly, these women are just too embarrassed to see a doctor about their bits. thankfully we've managed to overcome this somewhat with a lot of hard work from our staff out there, and a brilliant medical team that come and do a morning in which the women who are part of our program come and do the smear all together. it's kinda a community thing.

so if talking about it, laughing about it, giggling about it, means being unashamed about it, means doing it, i'll not worry too much about sparing your blushes.


dennisthemennis.co.uk said...

Fantastic blog Jody.

jody said...

why thank you :)