This post is sponsored by Nuffnang on behalf of the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation
Okay. I have a confession to make. It’s somewhat mortifying, actually and Dad if you’re reading this (he does) you’d better stop now. You’re not going to like it.
It’s going to get girly.
You see, I am kind of a girly girl, for a sporty one at least. I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing more fear-inducing than knowing that a summery beach-type event is coming up (or a special night out like Valentine’s Day tonight) and that you have extra hairs sprouting where they really shouldn’t be.
Nor does anything compel me to diligently squirrel away spare funds like the urgent need to have my dirty brown re-growth re-blond-ed (it’s a word okay!).
Yup, I’ve done it all.
Teeth whitening? Tried it. Spray tans? Hate ’em, but an occasional necessity. Brazilian blowout? On the list of things to try before I die. Boob job? I’m thinking about it.
Occasional massage to balance out all the gym work? Der. Of course.
oh the shame!
But. (And I kind of want to squeeze my eyes shut with shame as I tell you this, but it would make it hard to write). So ugh, here goes –
I am 32 years old and I have had only 2 Pap tests in my life. The last one was about 4 years ago. And I had abnormal cells and had to be re-tested, yet somehow I have managed to forget about this up until a few days ago.
Oh the shame.
Shame that is not especially helped by the fact that as I write this I have a hair appointment in 4 hours, and yesterday I had my waxing done. Hey – it’s Valentine’s day next week and I’m going to be on holidays. Talk about your double whammy for ‘must look amazing’.
And maybe it’s just me, but when I think about getting ready for a big event I’m as shallow as the next person. Hair, skin, nails, clothes, check. The basics, right? I’m sure with the big day of luuurve coming up you’ve thought about at least one such girly tidy up plan, even if you too have one of those men who claims not to ‘believe’ in Valentine’s Day.*
Actually, as I write this, my assistant Mal has just admitted to me she’s only ever had one Pap test herself. So it’s not just me; which makes me a feel a little better but still not exactly proud of myself.
But here’s something that stopped me in my tracks a little, and motivated this post –
According to the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation, each week about four Australian women lose their lives to cervical cancer. Four mothers, sisters, daughters, friends.
Four women who no doubt made time in their lives for important things like getting their hair done from time to time, having coffee with friends, making sure they looked their best for special events; perhaps on Valentine’s Day 2011. Over 200 women who won’t be here to worry about how they look this Valentine’s Day.
And the really scary part? Over 80% of women diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer have not had Pap tests. And they probably felt fine, as well. Cervical disease or cancer generally takes years to develop, and there are no early symptoms.
let’s get real
We talk about being Woman Incredible and I think I do a pretty good job on this blog and Facebook page of covering what that entails. Fat loss, nutrition, training, heck tons of motivation and mindset stuff. That’s what Woman Incredible is all about; it’s about empowering you to love the life you live and to get the most out of every day.
Something that would be pretty darn tough to do if your days were more numbered than what you always thought they might be. So let’s get real, ’cause I’m willing to guess that although I might be (have been!) one of the laziest at this sort of stuff I’m certainly not the only one to delay or forget about a girly check up.
Actually, recent figures from the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare show that 2.6 million Aussie women are putting off this crucial test, so I know I’m not the only one. Even aside from Mal 🙂
And here’s the thing. Things.
A 2012 Newspoll survey found that nearly half of us have some kind of ‘personal and intimate grooming’ lined up for Valentine’s Day (‘hangs head in shame again’) despite the fact that 40% of us are not having regular Pap tests every two years which we all know we should be doing.
Here’s something you may not know. (I didn’t). Since the introduction of the National Cervical Screening Program in 1991, the death rate from cervical cancer has almost halved. Testing works ladies!
So why the heck are we putting it off? I don’t think even I can say it’s the ickiness factor, not with what we all know goes on in a waxing room! And we’re willing to do that at the mere hint of a day at the beach, or a special night out! But clearly we’re still not motivated enough to do what it takes to protect our health; perhaps even our lives.
In preparing for this post I had the opportunity to ask Dr Ginni Mansberg, who is the resident doctor on the Seven Network’s … for her thoughts on why we just can’t seem to get around to facing the Pap (even the word is nose-scrunch worthy!)
Here’s what Dr Ginni had to say, and I love this as I really think she’s nailed what we are all thinking and dreading!
“OK here’s a confession; doctors don’t always make the pap test the good time fun in the sun experience it should be! In fact lots of my patients have horrible flash backs thinking about a painful pap ten years ago! Apologies to every woman who’s ever had a sub optimal experience…. But please coooommmmmeeee baaaccckkkk! Give us another try! These days we have (warmish) plastic speculums and less need for those ouchy brushes being stuck inside the cervix because the testing is better.
The other thing is most women are way too busy. Between work and kids and our generally busy lives, who has time to get a leg wax let alone a pap smear? I get it, but it’s kind of not negotiable! This is about your health and -without wanting to be a drama queen- it can be a matter of life and death.
Plus we don’t diarise it. We get the friendly reminder letter and it gets lost and that’s kind of that. Making it a regular Valentine’s Day special will at least make you remember every February to think about your pap.”
Speaking of which …
Valentine’s Day. Love, romance, tradition … and girly stuff.
Funnily enough, when we do have a Pap test, we seem to take it as seriously as preparing for a romantic night out – in fact, nearly all (97%) of women plan some type of “personal grooming‟ in preparation for their Pap test:
- 28% organise some form of „downstairs grooming‟ – from a trim or bikini line „tidy up‟ to even a „Brazilian‟
- 47% will wax, shave or laser their legs
- 29% make sure they have a morning appointment with their doctor
- 37% select certain underwear for the occasion
- 32% plan their wardrobe for the day by wearing certain clothing
Ha, I don’t know if I’d go so far as planning my wardrobe.
But jokes aside, these stats kind of beg the question –
If we spend so much time thinking about how we look on the outside, and even treat our Pap tests similarly to how we treat Valentine’s Day or other special occasions as far as the need for personal grooming when we do have said tests, why on earth is it that we don’t schedule the darn things as often as we know we need to?
here’s what I think
I like the way that Dr Ginni Mansberg, resident doctor on Seven Network‟s Sunrise and Morning Show, puts it. Dr Ginni says this –
“It‟s time for Australian women to treat this precious part of their body with the same level of TLC they lavish on the rest of their body parts; face, skin, hair, fingers and toes!
Admittedly it’s not as pleasant as a pedicure, a facial, or a body wrap, but a Pap test is as much about looking after yourself as a visit to your beauty therapist or local spa! But most importantly, Pap tests can be life-saving. They are the best way to find the early stages of cervical disease which could one day turn into cancer if left undetected or untreated.”
So let’s get (even more) real. I know that I don’t want to be one of the 80% who are diagnosed with cervical cancer after having not had their checks done. And nor do I any longer want to be one of those girls who claims not to be uber-girly but yet still prioritises bikini or other waxing, hair styling and other personal grooming in the lead up to V-day.
I don’t know about you, but I think this time around Valentine’s Day could be a great day for a tidy up both inside and out. I hope you agree.
This blog post was sponsored by Nuffnang on behalf of the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation.
Life is Now. Press Play.
*(On a side and somewhat ranty note, how can you not believe in it? Valentine’s Day, that is. It’s a real day, it’s even on the calendar. It definitely exists so you have to believe in it!)
PS: I have a facial booked for later this month. It’s the first facial I’ve had since I was pregnant a few years ago, so I feel pretty excited about it. But I’m going to make a promise now, and I hope you’ll join me. I hereby commit to booking my next inside-girly-bits-check-up before enjoying my facial. Hey, I’ll be honest. Even writing about it makes me squirm. But I’m pretty sure I’d be doing a lot more than squirming if my hesitancy about icky things meant something wasn’t found that should be. Wouldn’t you?