You don’t come with spares…

I often go for routine medical checkups prior to traveling to ensure that I am in good health as I wouldn’t want to fall ill miles away from home.

Another reason for my fixation is that I am a very ambitious person and often my life is planned out well in advance in terms of what I want to do, where I want to go and the kind of activities I want to engage in.

If you've never found yourself lying back on this chair... you need to!

My doctor recently recommended that I go for a number of routine tests including getting a pap smear.

So I woke up early and braved the chilly June morning to join the queue at the UBH women’s clinic where the pap-smear service is offered for free to a set number of individuals per day.

What struck me when I sat there was the fact that most of the women there were really senior citizens and there were no young women.

Considering that the service is free; considering that black woman are more susceptible to cervical cancer as compared to other races; considering that cervical cancer is a serious threat to women in Africa – I just expected more young women to be taking their reproductive health more seriously.

Maybe the idea of having someone staring down your private parts is off-putting but then if you’ve had a baby before you know that it’s all part of the process of receiving health services and care.

I can vouch for the United Bulawayo Hospitals staff that operate from the Women’s Clinic and tell you that they are friendly, respectful and professional – you certainly won’t feel violated – and if it’s any comfort; they see so many private parts that yours probably won’t leave a lasting impression.

In any event, when my turn came up; I obligingly assumed the position hoping no one would pay close attention to the name on the card.

I wanted to be an anonymous patient to protect the ‘identity’ of my private parts.

Luckily for me; the young doctor who was attending later confessed that he was not much of a newspaper reader and so my name didn’t ring any bells but the nurse took one look at the name on the card and recognized it.

She expressed delight at finally meeting me, said she loved my weekly column and was an avid reader of the Sunday News and what a great job we were doing.

So there I was lying semi-nude, cringing and thinking, “oh no”.

But after a few moments; the discomfort and awkwardness I felt soon melted away because; she found nothing remarkable about my nudity since I suppose these things look pretty much the same especially if you stare into or at them as part of your daily duties as a health practitioner.

...shyness is a luxury you cannot afford so get yourself checked - today!

My point is, avoiding health care because you feel embarrassed, shy or uncomfortable is rather silly because one thing about our bodies is that we don’t come with spares.

If anything goes wrong in our bodies, we don’t have spare parts so we need to invest in caring for our bodies and appreciating them for the valuable assets that they are.

I share my personal experience in this manner hoping to encourage more young women to take up this service which is provided at no expense, with minimum discomfort and great ease.

The procedure involves taking a picture of the cervix to visually inspect it for cancer cells that could lead to cervical cancer and Bulawayo was the first city in the entire country to get this new innovative machine.

So what are you waiting for?

I suggest making appointments as girlfriends or group of friends to avoid boredom while queuing and heading there to get a check-up.

Take a novel, bring your music along and patiently wait out the queue knowing you won’t regret making time for it.

I mean if women can sit through a 5 hour hair-braiding session; and the time we sacrifice towards looking good in salons – we can actually spare a few hours for our cervixes to get inspected.

For the record, having done the pap-smear; I am not expected to show up for another one until after 2 years so the convenience and peace of mind was worth the experience.

Even if you lived in the developed world where strides in medicine can guarantee that you get ‘spare parts’ to replace what isn’t working well in your body by means of transplants and skin grafts – I doubt very much that the field of medicine will evolve to see the transplants of private parts to replace those that have been ravaged by cancer.

Do yourself a favor… if it means wearing a disguise, traveling to another city where no one knows you or whatever – get a pap-smear.

You need it and it’s free.

While issues like male circumcision have enjoyed much prominence in media coverage; the need for pap-smear testing remains a very obscured but pressing health care issue.

So this article is a modest contribution to address this oversight.

Men go and get circumcised.
Women go and get a pap-smear.

And if you’re reading this from outside Bulawayo, Zimbabwe or Africa – the same plea comes your way – take care of your body; it doesn’t come with spares.

To avoid fluffing on about the medical terms and all…please read more about Cervical Cancer


20 thoughts on “You don’t come with spares…

  1. Priscilla says:

    Hey dee does one just walk in without a referral letter for the pap smear. Im tempted 2 go there hoping nobody recognises my name too and to all the ladies out there gather your courage and get it done its worth it than have yo “something eaten by cancer”. Thanx delta

    • itsdelta says:

      Hey dear… getting a referral letter would be a good idea because they usually prioritize those with reference letters before taking in the ‘walk-ins’. UBH usually takes 20-30 women a day so it’s really an issue of waking up early. Just sacrifice one morning and get it done.
      Go for it girl, you will not be sorry!

  2. robin says:

    Very inspiring. i will gather the females at the office and go for it. Its better to get a check up now and do something about it than waiting until you are very sick!we do not have spares for real!!!

  3. And get an HIV test while they are at it! Often, people find these things out too late and by then, no one and nothing can help them a jot. In the UK, you actually get letters inviting you for a pap smear if you are 25 and above. They actually care to ask you to come round! Wish the same applied in Zim. But as long as it’s free, people should just go ahead!

  4. Vongai V.C says:

    Hie Delta, was re-energised when I read your article. You and I have been advocating for the same thing. I just wish as many women could read this, and know the level of danger they put themselves when they ignore their cervix. I lost a friend this year on the 9th of March to be precise, due to cervical cancer. She was 27years at the peak of career and had never been sexually active. By the time they discovered it, doctors said it was too late. Yes, it was a slap in the face, cervical cancer can happen to any woman sexually active or not. I am not a mediacl expert but doctors say symptoms of cervical cancer sometimes only come out when it is too late, at least 6-8years in your system. So Iet’s continue encouraging women especially our younger sisters, friends, aunts to go for a routine check up.

  5. Lily Haritu Favour says:

    Waow Delta!!
    Thank you for reporting on cervical Cancer which is a threat to women’s lives.It is estimated that 500,000 new cases of the disease is diagnosed yearly with an estimated 250,000 deaths annually worldwide and over 80% of these cases are from developing countries with the worst rates in Africa.It’s sad!
    I work for a women’s health clinic in Cameroon and we have so far screened 8000 women in 3yrs.We recently received a consignment of 19,200 doses of the HPV Vaccine(GARDASIL) from the Gardasil Acess program and we intend to vaccinate 6400 girls with the vaccine(0ver 2000 girls age 9-13 have been vaccinated already)I pray many more African countries get this;Rwanda recently received some doses and if Zimbabwe is carrying out screening I think the prog. there should think of this primary prevention prong.
    A final word to all my female folks;while we go for screening or encourage others to,lets avoid the risk factors;
    -Multiple sexual partners or having sexual relationships with some one who has multiple partners
    -Cigarette smoking
    -Multiple pregnancies(>5)
    -HIV/AIDS(I am glad Fungai mentioned HIV because Cervical cancer and HIV go together.In 2008,WHO declared that Cervical cancer is an AIDS defining illness since HIV infected individuals have a 5-fold risk for Cervical cancer)
    -STIs etc.
    I will be attending the African First Ladies Stop Cervical Cancer in Africa Conference in Malawi soon and hope to see some one represent this new country I am falling in love with(read-Zimbabwe)

  6. Sam Sifelani says:


  7. monka says:

    Well done.

    Am not, however sure about the 2 years, My gynae has been doing mine every
    year since the birth of my daughter and the advice has always been that
    we get one done every year. Perhaps things have changed – but can you
    double check on that Delta?

    Informative and hope more girls will ‘sign up’ and get regular check ups.

    • itsdelta says:

      A regular check up is highly recommended but those guys told me I could come back after 2 years…. (at the latest). But sooner than that would probably be most wise… I think you’re right – the more frequent the better.
      Hope more girls get the message.

  8. Lily Haritu Favour says:

    Hi Monka,
    whorecommends yearly screening and if 3 successive screens are negative for the 3yrs,It is recommended that you review after 3-5yrs.That’s the way our prog operates for Enhanced digital cervigography in conjunction with Visual inspection methods(VIA/VILI) recommended for resource limited settings

  9. busie says:

    hie. i want to go and get checked soon. do you know of any hospitals in harare who offer it for free as it might be a while till i get to bulawayo.


  10. Mercy moyo says:

    Hey De,tel woman abt stuf 2 use dwn thre(umganu,intolwane) they jump 4 tel them abt pap smear u draw a blank,thez so many women wu a so obsessed abt dat stuf nt knowing dat havin dat chec up is important,its jus 2 bad.sme thngs used cn cause cancer,imithi n stuf,temporary thril 2 plis men bt u pay dearly.pple realy nid 2 b educated..i wonder how many pple can diferentiate btwn a gyno n just a general doctor..great topic,maybu shld do more of it.

  11. […] writes in one of her blog posts about pap-smears: I mean if women can sit through a 5 hour hair-braiding session; and the time we […]

  12. […] writes in one of her blog posts about pap-smears: I mean if women can sit through a 5 hour hair-braiding session; and the time we […]

  13. Nonhlanhla says:

    Seems a lot of women are ignorant about this, i work in a female environment of more than 20 ladies but so far no one i asked seems to know what a pap smear is all about. Me thinks the ignorance is widespread , and you can use your paper to educate the woman who has no access to internet…

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  15. […] dos textos publicados no blog, Ndou escreve sobre o Papanicolau: I mean if women can sit through a 5 hour hair-braiding session; […]

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