Women’s Week: Suffolk mother urges women and girls to attend smear tests after death of daughter Zoe

Zoe's mother Wendy has been fundraising for St Elizabeth Hospice, where her daughter died. Picture:

Zoe's mother Wendy has been fundraising for St Elizabeth Hospice, where her daughter died. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

The mother of a selfless Suffolk fundraiser is continuing her daughter’s fight to persuade women and girls to have smear tests in her honour.

Zoe Goddard, from Stowupland, lost her battle with cervical cancer in 2016 aged just 27.

She received a letter asking her to come in and have a smear test in early 2015 – but did not actually attend until nine months later, when she began experiencing symptoms.

Zoe was diagnosed with the illness that December and died the following year.

Now her mother Wendy Goddard is calling on women and girls – just like her daughter did in the months before she died – to get themselves tested promptly and regularly.

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She said: “Had Zoe gone to her smear test nine months earlier than getting her letter who knows where we would be now.

“I do struggle with the fact that if she had gone to her test she might be alive now.

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“It is so crucial that people get themselves tested, it’s a matter of life or death.

“It may only take a few seconds but it could save your life.

She added: “That is the message I want to get across really, that these are tests that save lives.”

Mrs Goddard’s remarks come as latest figures show cancer screening rates in Suffolk have fallen – overall coverage is down to 72.2% among women aged 25 to 49.

Those in Essex have dropped from 75.1% to 74.7%, according to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.

Latest figures from the charity also reveal only 71.6% of women receive their screening results within two weeks – far below the national target of 98.1%.

Every day nine women are diagnosed with cervical cancer – and two die – but screening is estimated to save around 4,000 lives each year.

The charity’s chief executive, Robert Music, said: “The number of women attending is at a 20 year low nationally.

“Over one in four women in the east of England don’t take up their invitation.

“There are many reasons women don’t attend ranging from simply putting it off to worrying it will be embarrassing or painful to not knowing what the test is and why it’s important. “Cervical screening is a five minute test, but the impact of cervical cancer can last a lifetime.”

Mrs Goddard added: “My message to women and girls is to get themselves tested at the earliest opportunity. I just wish Zoe had gone and seen someone, I don’t want other families to go through what we have.”

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