Entries for the Great East Swim are open. Enter at: Greatswim.org/East

A dental hygienist who discovered that her infected wisdom tooth was actually blood cancer vowed to get back into her love of swimming after made a recovery from the disease.

Linda Fordham, from Bardwell near Bury St Edmunds, was given a shock diagnosis of Leukaemia in 2014 after a routine visit to her dentists for an infected wisdom tooth.

She visited A&E on the advice of her dentist after her tooth would not stop bleeding where she received further tests. Scans revealed that the mum-of-two had blood cancer and the count of her blood platelets was so low that it had not been clotting, which caused the tooth to continuously bleed.

Linda was given an intensive chemotherapy course and spent seven weeks in Addenbrooks hospital before continuing further chemotherapy treatment.

Finally, she was given the news that she was in remission at Christmas and returned to work nine months after the diagnosis.

Before being diagnosed, Linda was a keen swimmer but had to avoid water during her treatment. This made her more determined than ever to get back in the pool following her good news.

Linda then decided to set herself the ultimate challenge by tackling open water for the first time. She will take to Alton Water for the Great East Swim in the two-mile distance on Saturday 17 June.

Linda, 43, said: “In June 2014 I went into A&E with an infected wisdom tooth because it was very severe and my dentist could not treat it.

“Twenty four hours later I had been diagnosed with Leukaemia and had been transferred to a specialist hospital in Cambridge.

“I was lucky that the type of cancer that I had in the long run has a good prognosis, but if it is not caught quickly it can be fatal due to the decrease in blood count.

“Mine was down to a minimum, it was almost at zero so my blood was not clotting.

“I never imagined that my trip to hospital for a wisdom tooth would turn out like that. I was due to go on holiday with the family ten days later and I believe had I went to Majorca, I would have not made it back.

“Doctors asked at the time if I had any lumps or bruises and looking back I did have some bruising but I put it down to being out and active with my young kids.

“I was very lucky to make a full recovery and that is down to the amazing research done by blood cancer charities. If it was ten or fifteen years ago, I would probably be among those who were dying from it.

“It's because of the revolutionary medication that is made possible by research that there is now an 80 per cent survival rate.”

After receiving the important news that she was in remission, Linda and her husband Chris set on a fundraising mission to support blood cancer charity Bloodwise.

They managed to raise over five thousand pounds and Linda hopes to continue her efforts when she takes on her first ever-open water swimming challenge at the Great East Swim this summer.

Suffolk's biggest open water swimming event involves over 2,000 people taking the plunge for fun, fitness and fundraising. The event features a range of distances for all abilities, from half a mile up to a marathon 10k swim.

Linda, who is mum to Alex, 13 and seven-year-old Josh added: “I have always swam from an early age and it is something that I am very passionate about.

“When I started my chemotherapy treatment I had a line inserted which meant I could not go swimming or come into any contact with large amounts of water, which was very disheartening.

“It made me determined to get back into swimming and when I got back in the pool it really helped with my physical and mental recovery.

“It was a place I could use to find myself and build up my strength. When I was given the good news I decided that I would take on an open water swimming challenge as the next step.

“I'm really looking forward to getting out there and finding a place to train now that the weather is improving and I am getting stronger.”

Support Linda during her fundraising here.

Entries for the Great East Swim are open. Enter at: Greatswim.org/East