When my mother, Jo, became ill with Cervical Cancer, I was only 7 years old. I had no idea of the lonely struggle she faced, being unfortunate enough to have what she called an ‘unfashionable’ cancer. There was little information available to her, and absolutely no support.
My father, Jamie, understood completely how isolated his wife felt, as cancer gradually conquered her body over four years, eventually killing her in 1999.
It was thus that Jo’s Trust was created.
My father’s hope was that he could outstretch a hand to the silent population of women suffering from this disease, using the internet which, at the time, only showed potential as a useful tool.
My parents taught my brothers and I that the only way to live a good and happy life is to fill it with people and with love. We understood why when my father suddenly died in 2003. The people who loved and were loved by my parents became a net of support, which remains strong to this day.
That sense of support, and of friendship are the foundation of Jo’s Trust. Beyond which the education of women about HPV and how to prevent this disease are paramount.
The last 10 years have seen extraordinary growth for Jo’s – we’re now reaching more people than ever before through the online forum and at the annual Let’s Meet events – and add to that a successful lobby for an HPV vaccine and Jo’s first decade has been a real, tangible success.
However, women are still dying as a result of cervical cancer. Women are missing smear tests every day and all over the world people are mourning the loss of their mothers, wives, sisters, and friends.
And so Jo’s continues with its mission, showing the strength, resilience, and determination which both of my parents showed in their lives. The baton has been passed now and as a new generation of women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, so must a generation be educated, supported and advised.
Jo’s Trust – born out of the loss of one woman, Jo Maxwell – hopes to contribute to a future wherein no lives are lost from Cervical Cancer. We continue to host a community of extraordinary women who help each other through, with the camaraderie that my mother so sorely craved, aided by the advice of our medical panel.
Although the last ten years have seen enormous achievement, there is more work to be done to show women that Cervical Cancer is largely preventable, and to help women to recognize any symptoms they may develop. Feedback from current members has shown that more must be done to provide face-to-face support, as well as efforts into community service and educational programmes.
Though the web has been an amazing platform for Jo’s Trust, to reach more women, we must grow, through increased income and awareness.
In another 10 years, let us see a considerable reduction in the numbers of women affected by cervical cancer.
My father’s hope for Jo’s Trust was that the site would “become the global portal for cervical cancer and contribute to a significant drop in the incidence of this disease worldwide”. With that message clear in our minds, we passionately thank all those who have used and supported Jo’s Trust over the last ten years, and we turn our eyes to the future; a future free from Cervical Cancer.
Jo and James Maxwell's daughter