A talented singer with two daughters died of cervical cancer after missing just one smear test.
Alexis Woolerton, 34, of Cross Green in Leeds, passed away last Christmas Eve, leaving behind children Ava, eight, and Annie, seven.
Her partner Ricky Walker said Alexis, who was well-known on the Leeds karaoke scene, missed just one cervical smear test in 2015 before her illness developed.
She was originally diagnosed in July 2017 and underwent surgery and radiotherapy before being given the all-clear in May 2018.
She fell ill again at the end of May and in July it was confirmed the cancer had spread.
Mr Walker said:
"Alex missed one cervical smear in 2015, which cost her her life. She used to tell women not to put off going for cervical screening."
NHS chiefs have raised concerns that the take-up rate of smear tests among women is at a 20-year low.
Leeds has seen a drop of one percentage point for women aged 25 to 49 to 71.4 per cent and a fall of 0.8 percentage points to 77.5 per cent for women aged 50 to 64 between 2017 and 2018.
Although the test does not diagnose cancer, it does detect pre-cancerous changes in the cervix which can be monitored or treated with a minor surgical procedure to prevent cancer developing later on.
Women are eligible for a test every three years from the age of 25.
What does a smear test involve and who can have one? This is what NHS England say
- Cervical screening (a smear test) checks the health of your cervix. The cervix is the opening to your womb from your vagina.
- It's not a test for cancer, it's a test to help prevent cancer.
- All women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 should be invited by letter.
- During the screening appointment, a small sample of cells will be taken from your cervix. The sample is tested for changes to the cells of your cervix.
- Finding abnormal changes early means they can be monitored or treated so they do not get a chance to turn into cervical cancer.
- You'll get your results by letter, usually in about two weeks.
- The test itself should take less than five minutes. The whole appointment should take about 10 minutes.
- It's usually done by a female nurse or doctor.
- Before starting, they should explain what will happen during the test and answer any questions you have.
- You can bring someone with you for support
- Most women are tested every three years. If you return abnormal results, you may be asked to return for more frequent tests in future.
- It's entirely optional and you can opt out of invitations for testing - but being tested is the best way to prevent cervical cancer.
To book a smear test, visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/how-to-book/
Alexis Woolerton - the mum who 'loved to make people smile'
Alexis had auditioned to appear on The X Factor and The Voice and had been successful in the early stages of both competitions - but had to pull out after falling ill.
Partner Ricky Walker said:-
"She was like a tornado, she was the life and soul of the party and she loved nothing more than singing.
"Alex absolutely adored her kids and she would be so happy that friends and family are raising money to take them on the trip of a lifetime.
"She was an amazing singer. One and Only by Adele was our song. She used to sing it to me with such a passion.
"She was loving and kind and anyone her last penny. She was generous to a fault and loved to make people smile."
Mum Ann-Marie Woolerton, 62, said:
"From being a young girl all she wanted to do was sing. She was a fantastic singer.
"She was so popular and had hundred of friends. We miss her so much."
Friend Stephanie Farquharson added:
"She was inspirational. Whenever she walked into a room and sang she stopped people in their tracks.
"She was such a bubbly and vibrant girl. It's just a tragedy."