AN inspirational woman who fought a long battle with cancer leaving her unable to have children is helping a charity for bereaved parents.

Lisa Askew was moved to help the Snowdrop Appeal after reading about the efforts of James and Annika Dowson, from Helmsley, in the Gazette & Herald.

The couple are leading a campaign to raise £120,000 to create a bereavement suite at Scarborough Hospital's maternity unit. after their first baby, Gypsy was stillborn in 2008.

Lisa, who is a health care assistant with the district nurses at Scarborough Hospital, is a leading campaigner to reduce the age of routine smear tests after being diagnosed with cervical cancer just days before her 30th birthday.

She said that after her own experiences she could relate to the need to have a special unit to look after people who needed support in difficult circumstances.

"Every time I went for treatment I had to go to a department next to the maternity unit, which is incredibly hard," she said.

"When I heard Annika's story, I could really relate to what she was saying and wanted to do all I could to help."

Lisa said she had been ill for about 18 months and was initially diagnosed with endometritis even though she was suffering from the classic signs of cervical cancer.

"I was told I was too young and that women under 30 didn't get that sort of cancer and by the time I was found to have cervical cancer, it had spread," she said.

"They said I needed an hysterectomy and because the cancer was so advanced the surgeons couldn't afford to wait to harvest any eggs. I was told treatment had to start straightaway or I would die and all I wanted to do was be alive."

After a seven-hour operation Lisa, and her husband, Andrew, were told that they had been unable to remove the tumour because it was so large and was attached to her pelvic wall.

What followed were sessions of chemotherapy and high-dose internal radiotherapy.

Lisa, now 38, said it was an horrendous time.

"Andrew and I had been together for 17 years and married for three.We had expected to get married and have a family and all that had been taken away from us," she said.

"You always think that sort of thing won't happen to you but it did and now my life has changed so much. But I always vowed that if I lived through that nightmare I would do something to help others including those who has helped me."

Lisa, who has been in remission for seven years, is an ambassador for Cancer UK and is a counsellor on issues relating to cervical cancer.

She has also raised more than £50,000 for cancer research and has visited Downing Street four times to petition for the age of smear testing to be reduced from 25 to 20.

"I try to tell my story as much as I can and urge women to go for their smear tests and listen to their own bodies as only they know when something is not right," she said.

Lisa, who lives in Burniston, said she had met Annika through her work at Scarborough Hospital .

"We have not know each other for very long but I consider her one of my best friends and we feel like we have known each other for years," she said.

"I am grateful to her as she sees past the cancer and just sees the real me and someone who wants to help and support her."

To raise funds, Lisa is appearing in a calender produced in aid of the Snowdrop Appeal and next Sunday will be taking part in a skydive at Durham Tees Valley airport.

"I'm terrified and also wondering why I said yes now, but I'm also excited because its something to tick off my bucket list," she said.

Anyone who would like to sponsor Lisa can do so by visiting