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I always went for smear tests as I'm originally from Japan and back home everyone has a compulsory health check every year. It was part of your normal routine health check so of course in England whenever I get invited for tests, such as a smear test, I make sure I attend.
When I went for my regular smear test in 2014 the results came back saying they'd found abnormal cells and that I would have to go to hospital for a colposcopy. To be honest, at this point I wasn't really worried and thought that everything would be alright.
Shortly after this appointment I went on holiday and forgot about everything. However, when I returned home I had a letter from hospital asking me to come to a meeting with a consultant to discuss my results. That's when I knew something was seriously wrong. They wouldn't call me into hospital if the results were normal and I didn't need any further treatment; I was expecting the worst.
I started my six week treatment in July and finished it in August 2014. Despite the treatment being very hard and tiring I was so grateful for the support I received from friends, and especially from district nurses. In Japan we don't have district nurses, and being all alone over here meant I somehow had to get to and from treatment, which can be a challenge when you're exhausted. That's where my friends and the district nurse came in; they really helped me and were always there for me.
A nurse at the hospital where I was diagnosed also told me about Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust and the support they offer. I went on the Jo's website and discovered they have a Manchester support group meeting which I attended for the first time before treatment. The group could tell me from their own experiences what was going to happen during treatment, that really helped.
I had a follow up scan in March 2015 and it showed that everything was going well and that the cancer had gone. I still suffer from some side effects from the treatment such as changes in my bowel movement, which means I've had to change my diet. My bowel is less able to absorb the acid that is released when eating fatty foods, which gives you diarrhoea. I saw a specialist for this problem and they prescribed me medication and suggested a special diet that helps me cope with these side effects. Since then it has really improved, which is great for my quality of life.