New Zealand-based blogger and mother-of-five Krystine Nation has urged women to overcome the stigma and get a smear test like their lives depend on it — because, for some, it does.
In a video posted on her Facebook page earlier today, Nation recalled the time when she kept putting off getting tested, only to then go through a serious scare.
"Ladies, you have to get your smears. Please," she said.
"When I was about 23 or 24, my girls were just very little, I had been avoiding my smears for years. Then I was encouraged to go and do it, did it, it turned out I had abnormal cells and a biopsy and that kind of thing," she recalled.
The mother-of-five said she was lucky to get it early and avoid the worst but it was a risk she is no longer willing to run.
"I would not have three of my children. I would not have met my husband. He would not have been blessed with my presence had I left it," she said. "It could have turned into something really bad."
Using the funny tone her followers have got used to over the years, Nation delivered an important message, without pulling any punches.
"Smears are invasive, so invasive. They are freaking horrible. But do you know what else is invasive? Being embalmed," she said.
"Having someone strip you naked and dress you for your funeral is really invasive. I'm sorry, I have to go there because, if you don't do it, that's how invasive it could become."
Hoping word play might be the way to get through people, the blogger urged the women watching her video to "swab what they're doing", call up the doctor's office and say "smear I come".
"It's smeary important that you do this. Now. Swab what you're doing right now. Call your doctor's office and make an appointment please, and say 'smear I come'. If you don't do it, I won't be smeary happy."
"Hope now I've said the word smear enough," she said, before finishing her video: "Thank you smeary much."
Speaking to the Herald, the blogger, who has more than 132,000 followers on her Facebook page "Real life wife - Krystine Nation", said she was driven to post the video after seeing the sad news last week that Labour MP Kiri Allan had been diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer.
"I've posted in the past about the importance of smears because of my own personal experience but people don't really tend to pay attention to 'serious' talk online," she said.
"So after the news about Kiri Allan and seeing so many women speak up about not getting smears I thought that adding some humour and a more personal touch might get people's attention better and remind them to get it done."
Nation said she understands women who put off getting tested as, even after her health scare, she still feels uncomfortable getting a smear.
"I'm 34 and I still get embarrassed and go red and tense getting it done," she said.
"It's a very unnatural feeling having someone looking around down there! I think we find so many excuses and have the old 'she'll be right' attitude. I also think a lot of mothers tend to put it aside so that they don't have to take children In with them. I know for myself as a 20-year-old it just felt extremely scary and I put it off for about 4 years. There needs to be a hell of a lot more open conversation about it," she said.
The blogger's post has generated several comments from New Zealand women who pointed out some of the obstacles to getting tested, from stigma to financial barriers.
"A few women did mention financial barriers and that in some cases it costs them around a $50 doctors fee to get a smear, having them free across the board would surely save money in the long run as prevention is cheaper than treatment," Nation said.
She also thinks New Zealand needs "more health campaigns around cervical cancer" that cater to women in their 20s "as that's when we need to start getting them into the habit of getting them done".