Melksham cervical cancer sufferer Julia Tugwell is urging other women to talk openly about the disease, as new figures reveal alarming numbers of women still do not attend smear test appointments.

Miss Tugwell, 42, was diagnosed in December, and is now in remission following a hysterectomy.

Now the former Westbury Junior School teacher is supporting the Jo’s Trust charity during Cervical Cancer Screening Awareness Week, in encouraging others to get tested.

She said: “One in five people don’t go for their smear tests. Often that’s because of embarrassment, and because it’s hard to get a doctor’s appointment, so they don’t go and they are unaware how serious it can be, but there are no symptoms until it’s very advanced.

“If I can get one person to get their smear test and catch it early it will have all been worth it.”

Miss Tugwell, who has a 13-year-old son, Max, was keen to tell her friends and family about her condition and after talking to others on the Jo’s Trust online forum, now writes a regular blog about living with cancer.

She said: “Everybody deals with the diagnosis in their own way. Some people online are saying they haven’t told anybody, but they are telling strangers on the internet.

“I told everybody. I don’t know why but that’s how I dealt with it.

“A lot of people have read that blog and are getting in contact; it has had over 7,000 views.

“It’s quite therapeutic to get it out there. You can just say to people here’s the blog address and I will update it as I go, so you don’t have to constantly answer the same questions and tell 50 different people the same thing.

“It also means if I die then my son will have a record of it. It’s been incredibly difficult for him, but he has come through the other side now.”

Her blog can be found at, and more information about booking a smear test is available from the Jo’s Trust website at