Mum died aged just 28 after being told cancer symptoms were side effect of contraceptive
A mum died aged just 28 after being told her cervical cancer symptoms were a side effect of the contraceptive injection.
Alexandra Hodson tragically passed away in August last year, two years after she fought for her diagnosis, the Liverpool Echo reports.
The mum-of-one had told doctors 'time and time' again about her symptoms, but said she 'got told it could be normal because of the contraception she was on'.
A year on from her death, Alexandra's sister Nicola Hodson, 37, is speaking out to encourage people to go for smear tests when invited.
Nicola, from Preston, said: "Don't ignore the symptoms. And if you don't ignore the symptoms and you go to your GP and see a nurse or a doctor, just push, push, push.
"It turned out that all that time it was in there and growing."
She added: "So if you don't get the answer you're happy with at the surgery, see a different nurse, see a different doctor. If you've got the symptoms of it, you must must, must push to get a smear.
"It gets me really, really angry and sad because she knew she had it. When she got the leaflet through for her first screening, and she saw the list of things, she said she knew because she had every one of them."
One of the first symptoms of cervical cancer is often abnormal vaginal bleeding during or after sex, between periods, or after menopause.
Other symptoms include pain and discomfort during sex, pain in your lower back or pelvis, and unusual or unpleasant vaginal discharge.
All people with a cervix aged between 25 and 64 are invited by letter for a cervical screening, or smear test, to check for certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause the cancer.
One in four skip their smear tests, and this rises to one in three for women aged 25 to 29, Alexandra's age group.
This is despite cervical cancer being the most cancer in women under 34 in the UK, with rates increasing by more than half in the decade to 2017.
Nicola is urging everyone invited to go, even if they feel uncomfortable.
She herself put it off for weeks this summer, nervous about her results around the anniversary of her sister's death from the 'cruel disease'.
"It's the thought of, 'Oh what if something comes back? What if I have to go for more tests?'. And I think because it was coinciding with the anniversary, it was just a bit much", she said.
But that fear went away once she had the test six weeks later.
She said: "At the end of the day, it could save your life. And for all of a minute. It's really not a long thing to have done at all. And there really is no need to be embarrassed. I mean, they see plenty and do plenty daily."
Nicola said she misses her 'funny, outgoing' younger sister who was good at accents and loved having a laugh.
Alexandra was an aspiring hairdresser and intended to return to work if she recovered.
She was treated at Clatterbridge Hospital and her family were fundraising for immunotherapy, but it didn't work.
One day last summer, she went into hospital and didn't come back.
Nicola thought she would stay in until she was strong enough, but her younger sister fell asleep and died a week later.
Speaking of her favourite memories of her sister, Nicola said: "Really early on, not long after she'd been diagnosed, we'd gone out just with my eldest daughter and my niece.
"We'd gone for the day at Blackpool, we'd had afternoon tea, and we took them up the Tower. Then we went down to the beach near the Comedy Carpet.
"We were taking pictures with the Tower in the background and being daft and silly.
"She took this really funny picture of herself, and later that night when I was at home, she sent it to me, and she was like, 'If you're ever sad and down, just look at this picture and it will make you laugh and smile'."
But mum-of-two Nicola has only looked at it once or twice since her baby sister died.
Nicola added: "As much as I know that's what she wanted me to do, sometimes I think if I look at it, I'm just going to get really upset.
"I think I need to do it when I've got some time and I'm on my own, and if I need a big cry, I can have a big cry and I'm not going to upset anybody else because nobody is here to see it."