Today marks two years since Sunderland’s Amber Rose Cliff lost her life to cervical cancer - four years after she was repeatedly refused a smear test.
The 25-year-old’s legacy is helping save lives worldwide as her family share her story to encourage young women to be checked out.
And now around 20 people have made a permanent commitment to raising awareness by braving the needle and getting a touching tattoo in a unique fundraiser at Joe Graham’s Tattooing Studio, in Hylton Road, Sunderland.
The event raised £1,301 for Amber’s Law.
Following the death of the popular Gentoo worker, her loved ones launched Amber’s Law and have tirelessly campaigned to raise awareness of cervical screening.
By the age of 21, Amber, who lived in Ashbrooke, had gone to her doctors more than 10 times with symptoms but was declined a screening because she was under 25.
Amber had a private screening and was diagnosed with stage 2 cancer. She went through gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments and many surgical operations during this time.
Amber’s dad, Darren Cliff, returned to Joe Graham’s Tattoo Studio - where he had his first and only tattoo done around 30 years ago - to join others in getting a teal ribbon inspired tattoo.
The 53-year-old had a tattoo of an infinity band with an amber rose around it and Amber’s name underneath.
He said: “Everyone we know has been touched by cancer at some point and it’s something that is close to so many people’s hearts.
“It’s a permanent reminder for everyone and everyone here has a different reason for getting it.
“The event has been really good.”
Darren also hopes to get a portrait of Amber tattooed on his body later this year after Amber’s brother Josh got a tattoo on his arm.
Amber’s Law set up an online petition calling for women under 25 to be offered a smear test if they’ve returned to a doctors showing signs two times which has almost reached 380,000.
“Our next milestone is half a million,” said Darren. “We originally wanted to lower the age to 18 but it’s progressed to being ‘on demand’ for women showing symptoms to be allowed a screening.
“If we can get something through it would be a massive legacy for Amber but it’s helping salve lives and that’s what we want to do.
“A story that is prominent for me is when we paid for a private screening for a 22-year-old woman with two children.
“She found out she had stage 2 cancer, she was able to get chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a hysterectomy and now she’s in the clear - this is only because of Amber’s story,
“As long as we are doing good in Amber’s name and helping save lives that’s what it’s all about.”
Last month the Echo revealed that more than 18,000 women in Sunderland missed their last smear test.
This means that only 75.4% of the 73,200 women over 25 who were due a smear test before the end of March 2018 attended their potentially ‘live-saving’ appointment.
Angela Graham, who took on Joe Graham’s Tattooing Studio from her father, organised Sunday’s event to raise funds and awareness for Amber’s Law.
A friend of Darren’s, Angela has lost her sister, Julie Ferguson aged 47, and her mum, Maureen Graham aged 75, to cancer.
The 48-year-old said: “My mam had her life but young girls like Amber shouldn’t be dying of cancer in this day and age.
“I want to give something back. I have a daughter a similar age to Amber and my tattoo artists are both younger women.
“I just think we need to make more awareness.
“I know we can’t smear everyone but if someone is showing signs is denied a smear - it’s just wrong.
“We could raise enough to possibly save two or three lives with a smear test.”
Her two tattoo artists, Kimberly Warren and Toni Lincoln, who are both 24, dedicated their time for free on Sunday with all funds from the tattoos going to Amber’s Law.
Angela said: “It’s about the people who have done it. They’re the ones who have a tattoo for the rest of their life. It’s a permanent reminder and it also becomes a story to tell.
“If they can sit in the chair and get a tattoo and go through the pain of that then hopefully it will encourage women to take the two to three minutes to have a smear test.”