10:00am Thursday 23rd February 2012
By Tom Jennings
THE grieving family of a young mum last night begged all women to go for regular cervical cancer screenings after she died just weeks before her son’s second birthday.
Becky Jarvis died a week ago after being diagnosed with the disease at her first screening in October 2010, at the age of 26.
Doctors were unable to save Miss Jarvis, from Witney, because the cancer had already spread to her lymph nodes when it was first detected.
The Government raised the age women could be screened from 20 to 25 in 2003 after concerns about the reliability of testing younger women.
Screenings do not diagnose cancer but instead look for abnormalities in the cervix – common in women aged 20 to 25.
The abnormalities can clear naturally and the Government was concerned that treating healthy women could cause pregnancy complications.
Miss Jarvis had not been able to have a smear when she was 25 because she was pregnant with her son Alfie, who is now 20 months old.
Her father Colin said he did not want any other family to go through the same trauma.
He said: “I would encourage all young women of child-bearing age to go and get checked on a regular basis.
“The Government should screen young girls earlier than they are.
“If the smear testing had been done earlier then possibly we would not be in the position we are in today.”
Miss Jarvis, who was brought up in Witney and nearby Aston, gave birth to her son, Alfie, in April 2010. He weighed 8lb 15oz.
After doctors discovered the cancer had already spread, she had her lymph nodes removed as well as courses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Miss Jarvis, who had worked as a chef at Jesus College, in Oxford, and Notcutts Garden Centre, in Nuneham Courtenay, died at Sobell House Hospice in Oxford.
Mr Jarvis, 62, of Wolvercote, said: “We are all very proud of her for the way she brought Alfie up.
“She had always wanted to be a mum and one memory that will always stick in my mind is a photograph of her in the John Radcliffe Hospital the day her son was born.
“She is sat there in bed holding him and she has got a smile on her face from one ear to the other.”
The family now plans to create a box of memories so that Alfie will never forget his mother.
Mr Jarvis said: “When he is old enough he can read through all this and get an understanding of what happened to his mum.”
Robert Music, director of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “What we need to do is encourage women who are eligible for cervical screening to attend because over one in five women did not take up their invitation last year.”
Prof Julietta Patnick, director of the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, said: “Cervical cancer and mortality from it are very rare in women under 25.”
Miss Jarvis’s funeral will take place at Cote Baptist Chapel tomorrow at 2pm.
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