Asking For a Friend | Chapter 11
Advice from Babe to Babe
Today’s edition of Asking for a Friend looks a little different than the typical column. This week we’re focusing on only one question—but it’s a big one. After one of our featured babes received some scary news in the results of her yearly pap smear, she was distraught—and reached out to the BWH community for reassurance. We’re publishing an edited version of her question and the responses from our advice gurus here (with permission, of course.)
Everyone who has a cervix is at risk for cervical cancer. So, babes: get your yearly pap smear. Let today’s advice column be a reminder that prioritizing your health is the best form of self-care, and that cervical cancer isn’t a death sentence if it’s caught and treated early. Your hustle is important, but so is your health.
Read on, and explore the above links for more information about taking control of your future—because there are a lot of glass ceilings left to crack, and we want you around for the long haul.
You'll be OK—I have the same thing. Cervical cells grow very slowly. It's not like you'll suddenly be riddled with cancer if it does develop. Women who get regular exams have extremely high recovery rates from cervical cancer, but this is all still if it even develops—and that's a very big if. I was scared, too, when I got my abnormal results back, but I have a great doctor who keeps a close eye on things and keeps me in the loop with treatment and prevention options. Honestly, the worst part so far has been when they had to take a tissue sample from my cervix—that was rather painful. But it certainly wasn't crippling.
I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this. Take it one day/thing/exam at a time, and remember that whatever happens, you’ve got a lot of people to support you [in the Babes Who Hustle community]. Sending so many hugs, positive thoughts and prayers your way.
I have had the same thing happen (abnormal pap smear results that have changed year to year). It’s scary, but you are not alone. Continue to push for your health and have an open and honest dialogue with your doctors frequently. The tissue sample definitely has been the worst part. (Especially when I had to put my uniform on and go back to my all-male squadron.) You got this, lady!
I had several years with abnormal pap smears that eventually turned into a high-grade risk for cervical cancer. I eventually had a leep procedure to remove cancerous cells and have been given a clean bill of health after several years of perfect exams. I totally understand how scary it is, but cervical cancer is very slow-growing and very rarely becomes an issue if you keep up with regular exams and follow doctors recommendations, especially if it’s only showing up as a low-grade risk now. The procedures (if necessary) are definitely uncomfortable, but nothing traumatic. Stay strong! I’m sure you’ll be great. Also, just to give you a timeline—it took over four years between my first irregular exam and the time when a leep procedure was deemed necessary. My doctor said it corrects itself in over 95 percent of cases, with zero intervention needed. I was just one of the unlucky few who had to have cells removed.
The recovery rate of diagnosed early-stage cervical cancer is something crazy-high, like 90 or 95 percent—and that's when it's already been detected. You have done everything right in prioritizing your health which has led to your doctor (potentially) discovering a risk factor before it even becomes a diagnosis. Because of your diligence, your care team can now take all the steps they're trained to take in order to protect you from it developing further. You've totally, totally got this. Congratulate yourself on practicing true self-care and go have a well-deserved drink.
Until Next Week,
THE BWH ADVICE GURUS
Asking for a Friend is Babes Who Hustle's weekly advice column that asks and answers the work-related questions on all of our minds. Looking for advice and guidance? Hit us with all of your questions below and stay tuned for next Wednesday's edition!