Beauty influencer Jessica Pettway died aged 36 from cervical cancer after multiple incorrect medical diagnoses.

The prominent beauty, fashion and lifestyle YouTube star passed away on March 11, 2024, just nine months after she was diagnosed with Stage 3 cervical cancer. The influencer broke the news of her shock diagnosis to fans on social media after previously being told she had with fibroids – typically benign uterine tumours.

In the Instagram post, she wrote: “It brings me so much joy to see how far I’ve come, because a few months ago I received devastating news. I was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. I don’t even know where to begin, but I want to share why I’ve been gone for so long, in hopes that at least one person is encouraged by my story.”

Reports from the Guardian say that Pettway said she began experiencing intense vaginal bleeding and fatigue back in June 2022. However, a month later her husband found her unresponsive and not breathing in their bathroom.

She was rushed to hospital, where she was told the blood loss was from fibroids, which develop in more than 80% of African American women by age 50. Despite going back to hospital from the bleeding again later on, she was still told it was a “fibroid”. 

The mum-of-two claimed “medical professionals treated it like it was not that alarming since it was just a ‘fibroid’.” She wasn’t told it was cancer until early 2023. 

After her diagnosis she wrote messages of determination to beat the condition on social media. She said: “Being told I have cancer didn’t devastate me. It was the reaction of those close to me. I knew that God is my healer and that no weapon formed against me, not even cancer, would prosper. I knew that I am more than a conqueror and that I will get through this.”

She had almost 20 blood transfusions from the point of her diagnosis but the last time she was in hospital was April 13, 2023. 

Her sister, Reyni Brown, broke the news of her death online on Friday, writing: “It’s my birthday today, and the only thing I could ever wish for is for God to bring you back on this earth. I lost my beautiful big sister 2 days ago, and my heart has never felt pain like this.

According to the CDC, 58% of non-Hispanic Black women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer at an earlier stage live for five or more years. Hispanic, Indigenous and Black women have higher rates of new cervical cancer in the US, as compared with women of other races. 

The National Cancer Institute says that the survival rate of all people with cervical cancer is about 67%. Other than unusual vaginal bleeding, early cervical cancer typically has no symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that  HPV causes most cases of cervical cancer. Health specialists advise receiving an HPV vaccination if you are under 26 years old and getting checked for cervical cancer regularly between the ages of 21 and 65.

Fibroids affect 80% of premenopausal women worldwide, but Black women are more likely than women of other races to experience them, according to the National Library of Medicine.  Clinical diagnoses indicate that the estimated cumulative incidence of fibroids in women younger than 50 is much greater for Black women than white women.