My legs were open, the gown barely covered my knees and the doctor had an Indiana Jones flashlight shining right between my legs, yep… that was my first pap smear experience.
At 24 years old, the thought of a doctor sticking their hand right up my you-know-what and failed attempts to organize a pap party with my friends had me convinced that I didn’t need a pap smear, but being the “adult” I am, I booked an appointment.
I could understand why women needed to go through what seemed like the most invasive procedure I could think of, I was just too scared to book an appointment after hearing some horror stories from friends.
After the six year long effort of putting off the one-minute procedure, I heard about Riarna.
Riarna was diagnosed with stage 3 Cervical Cancer in June 2015 and in December 2016 celebrated one year in remission. At the time of diagnosis, she was a fit and healthy 27-year-old woman with a toddler, until she realised something wasn’t right.
“Without quick action I may not be here today,” said Riarna.
“My pap smears were regular, I wasn’t actually due for one at the time, but it’s the first thing I asked for when I approached my doctor.”
“I had been having some abnormal bleeding, discharge and lower back pain which prompted me to visit my doctor a couple of months prior. I presented to my doctor, was referred to the gynecologist at the hospital, and this is how I received my diagnosis.”
Riarna was in shock when she received her diagnosis and broke down in front of her toddler who was not even two at the time.
“I was at home when I received my diagnosis because I prompted the doctor to give me my results over the phone, I was so shocked I shut off from the world for a day so I could process what had been handed to me,” said Riarna.
“From that very moment I decided that I would never give up, I would never stop smiling and I would tackle this journey with every inch of strength, love and positivity that I had.”
Riarna went on to experience major surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and internal radiation to combat the cervical cancer and became one of the 750 women diagnosed with the disease every year.
According to The Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation, 43% of Australian women aren’t having the recommended 2-yearly Pap tests and 57% of 18-25 year olds are not having the recommended 2-yearly Pap tests.
The Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation have created the Get the Pap Text, the first initiative in Australia where women can sign up for free to be reminded about when their Pap test is due by SMS. The ‘Pap Text’ program, aims to reduce the number of Australian women who miss out on their 2-yearly pap test. Register to receive a personal SMS reminder here.
One minute of discomfort could actually save your life! Do it ladies!