Your questions answered by our Views Editors.
I’ve recently discovered what feels like a lump on my cervix. I know that there’s a million things this could be, but I’m automatically terrified it could be cancerous. I don’t want to seem over cautious if it’s nothing, so I don’t know who to turn to for advice especially when the NHS is stretched so thin at the moment and I don’t want to worry my family/friends. I’m trying to stay away from Google as it’ll only make things worse, but I’m just worried as to what it could be.
Emily: First of all, try to stay calm, you said it yourself: there are a million things this could be. Even if it is something, that doesn’t automatically equal cancerous, and neither does cancerous automatically equal untreatable or life-threatening. You’re also right not to Google it - I’ve had nurse and doctor friends tell me that the internet will tell you almost any health symptom means that you’re dying. But what you are wrong about is not wanting to seem overly cautious and get it checked out.
Yes, the NHS is stretched thin right now, but remember that’s not your fault - that’s firmly on the shoulders of the government, not on people who need to access vital healthcare. If it is nothing, then it shouldn’t be any bother at all for a doctor to take a look to rule anything nasty like the c-word out to give you piece of mind. And if it does turn out to be something, both you and those treating you are going to be much happier that you got it checked out and caught early rather than waiting until later down the line when it gets worse and there are less treatment options. Some routine treatments have been slowed down or cancelled right now, but you should still be able to get an appointment – be it in person or virtual – with your GP where you can flag it up as an issue. There’s never any harm in asking, but there could be a lot of harm in not.
As for your family and friends, tell them about it but reiterate the fact that it isn’t a big deal and that you’re getting it checked out. It’s better to tell them now in case it does turn out to be anything, and at the same time talking to people you know about it should help take some of the weight off of you and put things in perspective. You don’t have to wait until something’s serious and confirmed before telling those close to you, and you’re allowed to lean on people every now and then, remember that.
I want to spend time with my bf but I also have so much work to do and don’t want neither my relationship nor my grades to suffer, (he lives an hour away by train) what to do?
Hailie: I’m lucky enough to live with my partner now, but even we’ve been struggling to strike the balance between working-from-home and spending time together. One thing that’s been really important for us is to set clear boundaries and maintain those, even when that all-too-familiar urge to crawl back into bed creeps in. So, when I’m working at my desk during the day, he knows not to come through to my workspace without sending me a quick message first. It sounds rigid, but it means that we’re both responsible for meeting our own goals and helps to avoid the inevitable distraction that occurs when you spend time with someone you love. Whatever it may be, being upfront with your partner about your needs and goals makes it a whole lot easier to honour them yourself. Maybe you agree with your boyfriend that you won’t text him while you’re supposed to be working, or you limit yourself to how much time you spend talking during your working time. The last thing you want to do is start resenting your boyfriend for holding you back, even if it’s not really his fault that you’re struggling to concentrate.
Your studies are so important, but your relationship should never fall by the wayside because of them. Learning to prioritise is important in any relationship, but that doesn’t mean you should ever view spending time with your boyfriend as any less important than the hours you spend buried in textbooks. Set dates or activities in advance. Call me old-fashioned, but I enjoy the looking-forward aspect of dating as much as the date itself. Regardless of how much work we have going on, my partner and I always make time to watch a movie with each other on a Friday night. No distractions; good snacks and good vibes only. To make it easier on yourself, agree with your boyfriend that you’ll split the traveling. When he’s coming to you, there’s an extra two hours of your day that you can spend however you please. Agree to meet halfway, wrap up, and go for a long walk with a picnic. If the work is piling up and it’s your turn to travel, use that hour on the train there to read or work on your laptop. As soon as you’re together though, put your studies to the side. Unless he’s a terrible, terrible shag (in which case, maybe do avoid spending time together) you should never be thinking about that essay you have due when you’re trying to unwind with the person you love. Make it clear to draw a line under your work when you’re in that space; even if you have mountains to do, you can afford to take a few hours to relax with someone who cares about you. Self-care isn’t just facemasks and fluffy pajamas; it’s making sure that all of your needs are being met, and quality time with the people you love is one of those needs.
Also, don’t underestimate the importance of phone calls and Facetime, especially now, even if it is an exhausted message. Right now, it’s even harder to stay on top of everything; I don't know if you’ve heard, but you’re living through a pandemic. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re finding it hard to balance everything; you obviously care a lot about your partner and your work. Set boundaries, honour your plans, and don’t be afraid to stick your work to the side in favour of relaxing; everyone deserves that, boyfriend or not.
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