'I went to hospital with dental pain - it turns out I had cancer'

Blood cancer survivor Stephen Curnow cycling from London to Paris for Cure Leukaemia. Pictures: Brit

Blood cancer survivor Stephen Curnow cycling from London to Paris for Cure Leukaemia. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

A mental health nurse who raced to hospital with chronic pain in his wisdom tooth came away hours later with far more devastating news.

Stephen Curnow, 44, went to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in March 2020 due to dental discomfort. 

The Sprowston man, who lives in Blue Boar Lane, was taken in for blood tests.

Blood cancer survivor Stephen Curnow cycling from London to Paris for Cure Leukaemia. Pictures: Brit

Stephen Curnow is cycling from London to Paris for Cure Leukaemia. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Within hours the results were in and they revealed he had leukemia. 

Every day since then the dad-of-three has been taking chemotherapy tablets.

He said: "There is never a good time to get told you have leukaemia but it was particularly bad timing.

"Two weeks later we had the first lockdown and there was a big scary pandemic out there."

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Stephen's health has now improved and he has managed to return to work - as well as taking up cycling.

Having taken up the hobby in lockdown to boost his fitness he has now been inspired to ride 320 miles over four days from London to Paris.

The cycle from June 16 to19 will see him and approximately 130 other cyclists for a Cure Leukaemia fundraiser.

Mr Curnow said: "I didn't have any obvious symptoms but in hindsight I was a bit more achy and tired but I put that down to someone being in my 40s.

"After the diagnosis I saw it in a more practical sense and doctors encouraged me to be optimistic about it."

Blood cancer survivor Stephen Curnow cycling from London to Paris for Cure Leukaemia. Pictures: Brit

Stephen Curnow takes tablets daily but says he feels in good health. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Shielding during the pandemic was tough, he added, as he had to temporarily stop work for around two months.

But after the treatment kicked in he could return to work and when it became legal, he started cycling with friends.

Blood cancer survivor Stephen Curnow cycling from London to Paris for Cure Leukaemia. Pictures: Brit

Blood cancer survivor Stephen Curnow initially went to the hospital with wisdom tooth pain. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

"Cycling was useful in my recovery and it made me feel like my old self," Mr Curnow added.

The NHS employee will have to take the chemotherapy tablets for the rest of his life but feels in good health.

He said: "I would say to people: 'Don't panic if you get a leukaemia diagnosis'. There are people who have gone through the same thing and recovered. 

"I feel fortunate and positive about it and want to do something that might help people in the same situation."

He has so far raised over £2,000 and to donate to the cycling challenge visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stephen-curnow