When 29-year-old Talitha Sargeant experienced abnormal bleeding on her honeymoon she was frustrated, but didn’t read too much into it.
"My periods had been so up and down in the run up to the wedding, which I’d put down to pre-wedding stress, that I thought it was me finally relaxing and my period was starting," Talitha told Press Association.
But two days into a four week tour of the USA with new husband Mathew, Talitha felt an urgent need to go to the toilet.
"I pulled my dress up and saw there was blood everywhere," she said. "It might sound a bit graphic, but it looked like someone had been murdered. The blood was dripping down my legs, onto the floor and had soaked through my dress and knickers."
After a while the bleeding became lighter and the couple continued to enjoy their holiday. However, when the heavy bleeding started again in Hawaii, Talitha’s mum organised a doctor’s appointment for when she returned home to the UK.
There, she was prescribed medication but was told to come back if the situation had not improved within a week. When the problem persisted, Talitha went in for an ultrasound and the sonographer noticed shading on her cervix.
It was Christmas eve when she was told that she had a seven centimetre mass on her cervix that was likely to be cancer.
“I was devastated. It felt like I was in a big black hole. Just two months earlier I'd married my soulmate, on the happiest day of my life, and now I discovered I had cancer.”
After Christmas it was confirmed to be cervical cancer stage 2B, and to preserve her fertility she would require surgery to remove her ovaries.
"I was told I would never be able to carry my own child. This left me feeling robbed and devastated," she said. "I was a newly married wife planning on starting a family. Oddly I found this more upsetting than being told I had cancer."
Her treatments included seven weeks of surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and brachytherapy. After three months the tumour on her cervix was gone, but tragically the cancer had spread to her lower back and lungs.
Doctors said they wouldn’t be able to save her, and she’s been given a prognosis of two to three years.
"I cannot describe in words how it is to hear that news," Talitha said.
But inspiringly, she says the experience has put things in perspective.
"I intend to be positive no matter what," Talitha told Press Association . "I wish this was not happening to me, but I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason, even if I cannot understand it.
"Cancer may be inside me but it does not define who I am."
And she wants other women to be aware of the signs she overlooked.
"I want other women to know their symptoms – pain and discomfort during sex, an unpleasant smelling vaginal discharge and bleeding."
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