It is every mother’s nightmare. Marie Evans had to watch helplessly as her ‘bright and bubbly’ 22-year-old daughter Jessica succumbed to cervical cancer.
The young mother-of-one was diagnosed with the condition in April 2013 and died on February 22 this year.
And her dying wish was that no other young woman have to endure what she went through during her 10-month battle.
Marie, aged 46, of Harvington Road, Oldbury, has launched an e-petition calling on the government to allow under-25s showing symptoms of cancer to be given the choice of having a smear test.
Presently routine screenings are not carried out on women under that age.
Jessica herself was refused such a test by doctors nine times because she was under 25.
The issue was discussed in Parliament earlier this week after the death of 19-year-old Sophie Jones, from Eastham, under similar circumstances.
It followed an e-petition set up in Sophie’s memory. MPs have agreed to discuss the issue further.
Marie, who is also a supporter of that campaign, said it had been a ‘step in the right direction’.
And her own campaign, called Fight for Jessica, is also gathering support with the retail worker set to hold meetings with MPs who want to back the fight. Among those she plans to meet is Warley MP John Spellar.
“Jessica was very bubbly and lit up the while room just while being there,” she said.
“I had to watch while my beautiful daughter deteriorated.
“In the end she wasn’t able to see or look after herself. She asked only one thing that we do something to make sure no other young woman had to go through what she did.
“That is why we are fighting. I know it will never bring Jess back and I will have to live every day without my daughter.
“You do not expect you children to die before you do.
“It is not right. But if we can get this situation changed then the lives of other young women will be saved. We just want young women to be given the choice.”
Marie, who gave up work in retail to care for her daughter, said the campaign was planning an awareness event in Langley.
They also plan to go into schools to try and build awareness among youngsters. “There are a lot of things we are working on at the moment. We will keep on fighting until the bitter end.” Jessica leaves behind a two-year-old son Riley.
Marie said: “There is still a lot to be done but I would like to thank everyone who has supported us so far.”
Peri Cawley, 47, started the e-petition to bring back smear tests for teenage girls following Sophie’s death in March.
The teenager was told she was too young to have a smear test when she complained of crippling stomach pains last February.
She was only diagnosed correctly with cervical cancer in November, by which time the disease had spread all over her body. Her family say all young women who have symptoms and want one should automatically be given a test.
Speaking following her daughter’s death, she said: ‘If we can do something to make sure this doesn’t happen to someone else, then Sophie’s death won’t have been in vain.”
The test is not offered routinely to women aged younger than 25 because cervical cancer is so rare in women that young.
The lower age of 25 was raised from 20 after advice from the Advisory Committee on Cervical Cancer Screening.