After her own results reported abnormal cells, Maya Jama is calling for women to stop putting off their next smear test.
Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s an extra layer of fear over attending appointments during lockdown. In fact, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust recently found that one in 10 women said they definitely wouldn’t attend a cervical screening now and 22% felt less likely to attend.
Booking an appointment is something that radio and TV presenter Maya Jama is urging women to do, following the results of her own “delayed” smear test. Sharing a video message on Instagram on Monday 1 February, Jama said she had left it a year to get a second check-up and her abnormal cells are now being monitored.
“It’s very rare I get serious but I don’t see it talked about enough,” she said to her phone camera. “Girls, if you haven’t done already, go and get your smear test. I know it seems butters and uncomfortable and awkward but it’s not that bad and it’s so important.
“I’ve just had to get my second one because I left it a year for my second check-up. You’ve just got to check on these things.”
Sharing more details about her own experience, Jama later continued: “Obviously as some of you know I find it hard to be serious about anything but I might as well tell you what’s going on because I’m getting so many messages from loads people saying, ‘I’ve been putting it off’.
“There’s these things – I’m not a doctor, probably not the right terminology – but I think they’re called ‘CINs’ [cervical intraepithelial neoplasia], and he thinks I have CIN two. So the first one is fine, CIN two [means] you have cells that you need to monitor and then the third is cancerous stuff or will become cancerous.
“So when I went today, he took a biopsy so like a little bit inside of me and that’ll get sent off and I’ll find out.”
Her advice was simple but so important: “You basically have to monitor these things and it’s better you catch it sooner rather than later so it doesn’t go into something else. Just get checked, don’t put it off, it’s minor. They’re professional doctors, they’ve seen a million fannies, they’re not going to be shocked by any. I know that’s the weird thought because I always thought like, ‘Oh my God, they’re gonna see my narn’, but it’s just minor.”
You can find more information on how to book a smear test on the NHS website. Anyone who wants to find more information on smear tests and cervical cancer can visit the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust website. There is also a helpline you can call if you are concerned: 0808 802 8000.