Dear diary, PAP SMEAR. That has been on my mind now every day for about 2 weeks. I need to get one done. During the course of my Obstetrics and gynecology posting, I rotated through unit 4 of the department. The unit 4 is the oncology unit. I spent 4 weeks in unit 4 and in those 4 weeks 10 new cases of cervical cancer were admitted. 10 new cases in 4 weeks, this does not include the old cases o. Cervical cancer is killing our women. I had heard people say this but I never actually got how bad it really is until I saw it one on one. And the sad part is that it is killing them at their prime, at ages when it must be so awesome to be a woman. Between 35-45 years is when the strength of a woman is at its peak, 55-65 years is when she should relax and enjoy all the labor she has put into her children. This is when cervical cancer cuts them off and it is painful. The disease is often silent, the symptoms like vaginal bleeds only start to manifest when it is already almost too late. This cancer is absolutely treatable. The key to treating it is early detection. And the only way to detect it early is to have regular pap smears done. Cervical cancer is a sexually transmitted disease, yes it is. One of the main associated factors is the human papilloma virus which is gotten on sexual exposure. Notice that I did not say intercourse? There must not even be penetration for the virus to spread, mere contact can do that. Okay this virus is not exactly bad, when one is infected with it there are no symptoms and it is a virus the body can flush out on its own. The issue is now when there is persistent infection of human papilloma virus and the body is unable to flush it out due to reduced immunity which can be as a result of sickness, poor nutrition and so on. When the body is unable to flush this virus out it stays in the cervix and messes with the normal architecture of the cells. Cervical cancer takes at least 20 years to develop. Before it becomes cancer, the cervix first of all undergoes some benign changes; cervical intraepithelial neoplasm (CIN). CIN has stages 1-3 and all 3 stages can be detected on pap smear and they are absolutely treatable. Even after frank cancer has developed, if cervical cancer is caught in the early stages (stage 1) it can still be treated. So please, pap smears. I cannot even stress how important it is. I just want to tell every woman I know about this. Pap smears, please. I want to tell people with young sisters or cousins or daughters that are not yet sexually active to get them vaccinated. Yes there are vaccines, but the vaccines are not effective after sexual exposure. I am getting mine done today.
Serena.P.S : I talked to my mom about getting my younger sisters vaccinated. She said ‘God forbid, cancer is not our portion’. This God forbid attitude is why Nigeria is where it is today. Not our portion, whose portion is it?