Rachael says Don't Wait Mate

The face behind the mask – meet the patient

Rachael is a journalist from Brisbane. She shared her story with us about overcoming barriers to healthcare during lockdown.

How has healthcare been different for you during lockdown?

During lockdown, I was able to have phone consultations or telehealth appointments with both my GP and my gynaecologist.

A year ago, I had my first surgery for irregular cervical cells following on from my Cervical Screening Test and it was there I found out that I had AIS (Adenocarcinoma in situ – a precancerous condition) and SIL (squamous intraepithelial lesions – abnormal cells on the cervix) . Thankfully, after the second surgery, I received clear margins and was required to have my six-month check-up in June of this year. It was a slightly different experience to normal, as we all had to wear masks and when I had my blood test and cervical scan, that was the same procedure required. I had purchased a face mask from the chemist for my first appointment and at the second appointment, I was provided with a mask.

I feel that the healthcare I received was exceptional for the circumstances of COVID-19, but I’m glad that I did still connect with the medical professionals who have been looking after my journey whilst both in lockdown and with some restrictions. I’m glad that I didn’t delay my appointments or put off making them due to the circumstances. I also had a psychology video consultation in April and that was a huge help as well.

If I can urge anyone to do something this year, it’s to ensure that you stay on top of your regular check-ups. I put off my Cervical Screening Test for too long and I am so grateful that my body at the time gave me some warning signs, your health truly is your wealth.

How have you overcome any barriers to healthcare?

I overcame barriers by communicating with my medical professionals, sending an email or making a phone call to book an appointment and discuss what my best options were. For some appointments, they would be done via phone, and others had to be in person.

What would be your advice to other patients on managing their health during lockdown?

My advice to patients on managing their health during lockdown would be to make sure that you listen to your body, ensure that your medical appointments are up to date and don’t put off important appointments. My next medical appointments to make will be my annual breast-screening, mole scan and dermatologist appointment and also with my dentist and optometrist before the end of the year.

I am planning on keeping all of my medical appointments in a hard copy diary next year, so I am more organised than ever. I currently rely on my memory and my phone or email and SMS updates for my reminders. My Health Record is also very helpful.

You can read more about Rachael’s story here