I Got Tests for Uterine, Endometrial and Ovarian Cancers

Writer:Kyoko Kubono

The autumn semester is over, and I’m on holiday at the moment. However, I had 2 urgent things to do. First, I had to go to the women’s clinic and buy 6 sheets of pills, which is the maximum I can get and the amount that I can get a bit of discount, with a cost of about 13,000 yen ($125/£95). Second, I got tests for uterine, endometrial and ovarian cancers for the first time, and only the test for uterine cancer was entirely subsidised by my city.

To start off, I’m going to explain why I hadn’t taken pills and got tests for the cancers until recently. My grandparents particularly distrust and dislike medicines and vaccines. My grandmother always roasted a spring onion and wrapped it around my neck, whenever I got sick in my childhood. My mother also dislikes clinics, even though she was working in a small clinic as a receptionist. What I remember the most vividly is when I got purpura nephritis and asthma at the age of 12 and 14, my parents, who held my national insurance card, allowed me to go to the hospital only after I became unable to walk due to the serious damages on my legs’ blood vessels and unable to breathe in oxygen. Additionally, she hates my questions about my body, particularly sex, periods, virginal discharge and pregnancy. Furthermore, my father is (willingly) ignorant of women’s bodily functions. When he accidentally saw me washing my underwear with blood, he looked disgusted but didn’t worry about me. Because of this environment, I have been so ashamed of learning about my body and going to clinics when necessary. In fact, I had no idea what pills are until I told my boss about my severe periods at my workplace. Even after she taught me about a women’s clinic, I was scared to go there and get pills because I felt like I should not depend on them. Luckily, accompanied by her, I was able to go to a women’s clinic for the first time at the age of 21. The clinic urges every pill user to take a test for uterine cancer within a year from their first pill to see whether pills are negatively affecting them or not.

However, I completely forgot about this during semesters, and my doctor reminded me of the test and informed me of city subsidies for that as well. I searched for my city’s subsidy and applied for it online. It was not that difficult to fill out the application form. 2 or 3 weeks later, I received a document for the subsidy from the city office. Thinking back, if I hadn’t got to know about my city’s subsidy, I wouldn’t be that willing to take the test as it costs about 6,000 yen ($58/£44), which is quite costly for uni students. Moreover, since my mother was very skeptical about the quality of vaccines for uterine cancer due to the media coverage, I have never got a shot for it in my adolescence. When I told my doctor about this story, he looked quite surprised, telling me the probability of getting serious side effects with statistical data. I had a sort of culture shock and got embarrassed with myself being manipulated by the media and my family. This is why he highly recommended me taking not just a test covered by my city’s subsidy but also tests for endometrial and ovarian cancers, costing about 7,000 yen ($68/£51). To be honest, I didn’t want to spend so much money on tests and pills before completing paying a tuition fee for the upcoming semester. Nonetheless, I eventually decided to take all the three tests to make sure that my womb is functioning normally.

I went to the clinic with the document for the subsidy. While I was waiting to be called my name, I got so nervous about the tests, wondering what if they hurt and getting embarrassed to open my legs in front of my doctor who is male. Having been called, I entered the room and sat on the seat. My doctor looked calm and asked me about my pills as usual. He then told me to go to the next room, take off my trousers and underwear and sit on a chair there. I sat on the chair, and a female nurse told me that the chair is going to move and open my legs. At this stage, I was scared and embarrassed to death and don’t remember what was actually happening to my body. Around 6 or 7 mins later, he finished all the tests apart from a blood test for the cancers without any facial expression or voice tone change. Next, he gave me an echocardiographic image of my womb and explained which is which and my womb’s condition. Lastly, I got the blood test that aims to check whether there is any chemical related to the cancers. Since the clinic outsources the analyses of blood and cell samples to institutions, I will receive my complete result by mail within a month.

Anyway, I’m glad that I finished all the necessary tests for womb cancer for now, although I’m not happy about the total cost of 6 sheets of pills and the non-subsidised tests. Also, I learned that my doctor is so professional that he never judges our bodies’ smell and appearance while testing. Put simply, I was scared of and embarrassed with the tests alone. So, I won’t get ashamed of taking the tests and opening my legs next time..probably. More importantly, don’t forget to check your city’s subsidies for tests for uterine cancer or breast cancer if you are planning to take them!