Mother with terminal cancer says smear test was ‘negative’ three years before diagnosis.

A mother of two with terminal cervical cancer says a ‘negative’ smear test from three years before her diagnosis showed signs of cancer.

52-year-old Lisa Stannard says that not having her cancer diagnosed earlier ‘devastated’ her entire life, and doctors say she only has a few months left.

Holly, 20, from Banwell, Somerset, and Will’s mother, 16, were first diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer in 2018 and received ‘asymptomatic’ treatment for the cancer.

The cancer relapsed in August 2021 and was treated again with a mix of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and brachytherapy – but has since relapsed and is no longer curable.

A subsequent audit of a smear test she completed in 2015 showed that analysts at North Bristol NHS Trust had failed to detect some abnormal cells at the time – normally this would have resulted in her receiving a two-week referral and further investigation.

The Trust apologized to Lisa in 2020 and acknowledged that her cancer could have been prevented if she had received treatment at the time – but she denies responsibility and says the tests were done to an “acceptable” standard.

Lisa Stannard and her two children, Holly and Will.  (Irwin Mitchell / SWNS)

Lisa Stannard and her two children, Holly and Will. (Irwin Mitchell / SWNS)

He has since ordered specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate after NHS bosses denied responsibility for his late diagnosis.

The former administrative assistant of a church is now hoping to raise awareness of the situation as part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, January 23-29.

She said: “I always understood the importance of going for every smear test and was very aware of the risks if you didn’t agree, but when I was told my test was negative I didn’t think much of it.

“When I started experiencing my symptoms, I knew it was best to seek medical help, but it was very difficult to accept the news that I had cancer. I was so worried and afraid of treatment that I would have to tell Holly and Will.

“After my first treatment, I was very bad. I was in bed for five weeks and physically unable to do anything. I was tired and had trouble moving because of the pain I was in, so it was a great relief when I was told that the cancer was gone.

“I felt like I was making good progress. I went back to work and was able to go out and meet friends again. But soon I felt things were starting to go bad. I started to suffer, but nothing prepared me for the news that the cancer had come back.

“I tried to fight it as much as possible but I realize that my condition will only get worse over time.

“Before I was diagnosed, I lived a happy life and was lucky enough not to have any major health issues.

“I did a lot of community work and helped organize events such as mixed sales, a village carnival, bake sales for kids, and discos.

“I was very busy with my public work and my life revolved around my children. However, now that everything has changed, I find it difficult to do anything without the help of others.

“Cancer has ruined my entire life. The saddest thing is to see the effect it had on my children who had to miss out on so much of their lives to help me. Having to tell them that I might not have much life left us all indescribably upset.

“I know I am facing an uncertain future and I want to spend as much time with my family as possible, but I also feel I deserve answers about my diagnosis.

“I hope that by making my voice heard, I can raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer to help others.”

James Pink, expert medical negligence attorney who represents Lisa at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Throughout our work, we continue to see the dire impact of cancer on families, and how many people are left waiting for answers after being diagnosed, unfortunately.

“Understandingly, Lisa and her loved ones were devastated by her prediction and what the future might hold, especially while they were worried about the events unfolding up until her initial diagnosis.

“We continue to support Lisa and are committed to giving her the answers she deserves. We urge the Trust to work with us to resolve her case, allowing Lisa to focus on spending time with her family.

“In the meantime, we’re joining him in support of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, an incredibly important campaign in raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease, the need to participate in screening, and the help and support available after diagnosis.”

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