Tell us about Get Papped and how this marvellous and thoughtful idea came into the world?
I wanted to put an end to the shame around getting an abnormal result. Because an abnormality comes from HPV which is sexually transmitted, abnormal results aren’t usually spoken about and if they are, it’s usually by a whisper. Around 70% of adults contact HPV at some point in their lives so feeling shame around your result doesn’t really make sense
Pap tests are never on the 'yay' list, what would be your best advice to those nervous about their first pap-smear?
Haha so true! But why not make the best effort you can to add it to the yay list. We run a practitioner directory where we ask our Get Papped community to recommend GP’s they’ve had a great interaction with. A big barrier to booking your cervical screening might be because you don’t have a GP you trust and feel comfortable with, hopefully this helps a little.
Once you’ve found a good GP, I recommend:
- Book your appointment in the morning so you don’t have to spend the whole day feeling anxious
- Treating yourself after the appointment, whether that’s going out for brunch, a cocktail or getting your nails done- whatever works for you
- If you’re feeling really nervous, have your friend or partner join you in the waiting room (you can even have them come into the room if you need)
- You can insert your own speculum if it makes you more comfortable
- Let your doctor know if you’re feeling anxious, they can talk you through the procedure and they’re likely to check in with you more if they know you are nervous
The announcement from NZ MP Kiri Allen on her cervical cancer diagnosis has recently brought testing rates to the forefront, what are testing rates like in Australia? Do you think more is needed to push testing rates further?
Such devastating news.
As we’ve moved from the pap smear to the cervical screening system in Australia, we won’t have clear data until the end of 2022. The estimation is that we have a 46% participation rate which is really disappointing. We have a lot of work to do to change this number. From offering support to those who’ve experienced sexual trauma, further support in rural and remote communities, specific support for Aboriginal people and offering self-collection to those who for cultural reasons do not book their screening.
Women’s health continues to not be taken seriously, we need to have these conversations so we can begin to properly showcase the issue at hand. I’d love to see a letter being sent to every 25 year old form the government to remind them to book their screening and further funding around educating people on why a cervical screening is important.
We have to remember, this is an invasive procedure and for many, this could be a traumatic appointment- what support are we offering those people?... Literally nothing.
You’re sending a Get Papped card to *insert idol*, who are you sending it to and why?
It has to be the queen of politics, Julia Gillard. She’s paved the way for women in leadership and I see her as a true change maker. Whether you’re into politics or not, there’s no denying the changes she has made and the conversations she still continues to spark outside of politics.
Have you got any other friendly reminder cards in the works?
I honestly think about this daily! Right now, I’m just working on Get Papped and encouraging more conversations around cervical screenings/pap smears as I think there’s so much more work to be done in that area. But never say never! No conversation or screening is off limits!
Bonus period question - do you have a go-to remedy for either PMS or period pain you could share?
Annoyingly I am a big sufferer of period pain. It debilitates me each month but I’m working on it and trying to attack my pain with a more positive mindset. Right now though, painkillers and a hot water bottle are my best friend.
I’ve recently read Period Queen by Lucy Peaches and I’m in the process of understanding my cycle better and using different approaches to period pain.
'Get Papped' Birthday Cards are available here. Let's hold each other accountable.