Many years ago, I was interviewed for a Trainee Biomedical Scientist role at my local hospital. The only catch was that there was no funding yet for them to take me on. As we all know, it’s one thing being told you’ve got the job in the NHS. Actually getting a start date is a whole different ball game.


Chocolate while you wait

During the long wait, I managed to get a job working as a microbiologist in a famous chocolate factory (no, not Willy Wonka). It had been a couple of months since my interview at the hospital and I felt certain they’d forgotten about me. So I spent a few days experiencing the amazing laboratory in the chocolate factory. There were shelves full of chocolate available to the staff to eat, since only one square was needed for testing. Not one person there would touch the stuff. Turns out, when you’ve worked there as long as they have, you’ve been overloaded with the aroma of chocolate so much that you choose to opt for crisps. I wasn’t complaining – more for me!!

Down came the snow

Three days into the job, the snow came. I was driving an hour and a half down the motorway to get there, leaving and returning in the dark. I was thoroughly enjoying my new job and slightly annoyed when I was advised to head home. The snow was so bad that I only went one mile in 2 hours. I ended up sleeping at a friends house, who happened to live only 3 miles from the factory. The following morning, a call came through from the path lab to tell me I could start on Monday! There was no looking back – I could now work just around the corner from home!

My new job

The department I went to work for was called Cytology. This is the lab where cervical smears are processed. The cells are transferred onto a glass slide, stained some beautiful colours, then sent to the screening room. That’s where all the expertise lies. Many cytoscreeners, all part-time, mostly women, would sit at a microscope and slowly scan back and forth over the slide to search for anything unusual. They’d been trained for 2 years and screened over 5000 smears before being permitted to sign off the results. Each patient slide was looked at by more than one individual, to be sure that the cells were not showing any signs of abnormality.

Many women never knew what care was taken with their samples. But over the years, each of us treated those samples like they were coming from our sisters, because they were. We were serving our community and it felt fantastic.

Choose smears!

So I guess you could say I gave up chocolate for smears! The test is done differently now, but the reason is still the same. The only way to prevent cervical cancer is to go and get your smear done! Don’t be afraid, just do it! It could be a matter of life or death.


#SmearForSmear2021 #JosTrust #CervicalCancerAwareness