A man diagnosed with a brain tumour after seizures he blamed on “drinking too much coffee” has made a full recovery – and is cycling 85 miles in May and 141 miles in June to celebrate the end of his chemotherapy treatment.
Steve Biggin, 51, a sales assistant at Morrisons who lives in Sheffield with his wife, Anna, 47, and has three children, Lauren, 28, Mya, 24, and Evan, 21, began having “out of body experiences” at work in September 2021.
He said they felt like “looking through someone else’s eyes” but later found out he had been having seizures.
After two months of regular seizures, Steve had a severe thunderclap headache and after going to A&E was dealt the “huge shock” of a brain tumour diagnosis.
He cycled every single day after he got the diagnosis, which he thinks made him “even stronger” and helped him make a good recovery after having the tumour removed successfully.
“Cycling has helped me through the hardest of times and I think it helped me recover from the operation, emotionally and physically, and I want to prove to myself that after all this, I can complete the race,” Steve said.
“I think when I cross the finish line, I’ll just have a big smile on my face. I’ll honestly be quite proud of myself.”
Steve said the seizures did not leave him “fitting on the floor or anything like that” – though he did feel disconnected from the world.
He said: “I couldn’t explain how I felt. They were almost like out of body experiences looking through someone else’s eyes.
“I could still communicate and co-ordinate, it just felt so weird. It would happen at work when I was at the checkouts.
“I just put it down as drinking too much coffee so I didn’t really think much of it.”
Steve continued having seizures up to once a week until, in November 2021, he had a severe and sudden thunderclap headache at home that, little did he know, was another warning sign of cancer.
He said: “The headache lasted for about seven minutes. I was being a typical bloke and played it down a bit.
“I was sat in the living room with my family and told them and Maya, my daughter, said I needed to go to A&E.”
To put his family’s mind at rest, Steve went to hospital, where doctors insisted he should have MRI and CT scans and kept him in the hospital for monitoring.
After being in Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital for three days, on November 17 everything seemed normal; his wife went to visit him and they were both under the impression there was nothing serious going on.
But then, as soon as Anna left, a doctor went to Steve’s bedside with devastating news.
“The doctor came over and threw the curtains around. He said he had some bad news for me and I have a tumour,” he said.
“I asked if it was cancerous and the doctor said it was.
“It was a huge shock to the system but I’m a very optimistic person; I don’t know if I took it on board fully.
“I remember there was a gentleman opposite me in the ward and he asked if he could pray for me, which I thought was beautiful, but I was definitely in shock.”
Steve decided to tell his family his diagnosis the same evening but waited for Anna to get home because he did not want to tell her the news while she was driving, in fear she might crash.
He said: “I rang Anna and she was having a glass of wine with the kids. They were all laughing and joking in the background so I decided to tell them the following day.
“I didn’t have the heart to tell them when they were so happy.
“It was a very lonely, sad night for me.
“I told them over the phone and they came to see me the next day. They had tears in their eyes.
“I was feeling positive when I saw them, though.
“I was determined to beat it.”
Steve was discharged from the hospital on November 19 and told Tesco he wanted to continue because he wanted to keep life as normal as possible.
A few weeks later, he had a meeting with a consultant, who revealed his tumour was at stage two.
Steve felt he was coping well and continued to be optimistic until he had a week off work to celebrate his wife’s birthday.
He said: “We woke up on Anna’s birthday and we just both cried, not knowing how serious it was and what I was gonna lose.
“I think that was the worst part.
“But then, after that day, we got into the roll of things and got a date for the operation.”
After Steve had a date for the surgery, he wanted to get as fit as possible and cycled every day, which he said “got (him) through his mental struggles”.
On January 17 2022, Steve successfully had the tumour surgically removed.
Steve said: “It was mixed emotions, I suppose. I was worried it was going to come back but I was overjoyed because they got rid of 99.9% of the tumour.”
Throughout Steve’s recovery, he continued to cycle and stay as positive as possible.
He said: “I think my fitness played a massive part in the recovery and, seven weeks after the operation, I did 35 miles on the bike on the road with my friend.
“I’m strong-willed anyway but cycling made me even stronger.”
One week later, Steve began having radiotherapy for six weeks, five times a week, followed by chemotherapy, in tablet form, for five days in a row, with 23 days off, for 12 months.
He said: “I just got into a routine with it and I was just thankful to be getting over it.”
Steve’s chemotherapy ended at the end of March 2023.
He said: “I was just massively relieved and so was my family.
“My tumour took a bigger toll on them than it did me and Anna, my wife, was my absolute rock.”
To celebrate the end of chemotherapy, Steve is taking part in Etape Caledonia on May 14 and hopes to complete it in just five-and-a-half hours.
“I’m so excited for it. It’ll be great to celebrate the end of treatment with something I truly love doing – and cycling really got me through the tough times,” he said.
Steve is also planning on cycling 141 miles coast to coast, from Morecambe to Scarborough, over three days at the end of June.
Looking back on the last few years, Steve said he thinks the experience has changed his perspective on life, saying: “I carry a little bit on my shoulder thinking it could come back.
“But, hey, I’m 51, have a fantastic family… I’ve had a fantastic life so far.
“Having cancer has brought a more meaningful touch to my life, for sure.”
To donate to Steve’s fundraiser, for The Brain Tumour Charity, visit www.justgiving.com/page/stephen-biggin-1679513324479.