Family members of a man from Ruislip who died of a brain tumour have visited a research centre where scientists are searching for a cure.
Aman Sumal, who sadly died aged just 36, had everything to look forward to when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour after suffering a seizure and headaches in August 2020.
It was initially thought he had a low-grade tumour but it was later revealed he had a very aggressive glioblastoma (GBM). He died in December 2021.
Having raised more than £3,000 for the charity Brain Tumour Research, Aman’s sister Sonia Sandhu was invited, along with Aman’s wife Jasdip Sumal, mother and father Gian and Raj Sumal, sister Jagdip Sandhu and identical twin brother Anoop, to the charity’s Centre of Excellence at Queen Mary University of London yesterday (12 December).
The centre in East London is leading the way in research into the type of tumour Aman had, which is the most common and aggressive form of brain tumour in adults.
Sonia, Aman’s sister, said: “Losing Aman was absolutely devastating. There’s nothing we can do to bring him back, but we can support Brain Tumour Research in the hope of preventing other families from having to endure the same heartbreak.
“We also want to do all we can to raise awareness of brain tumours, which is something I know was really important to Aman as well.”
When Aman was first diagnosed, he was thought to have a low-grade tumour. He was given anti-seizure medication and referred for three-monthly scans. It was only after suffering another seizure five months later that an MRI scan showed areas of concern.
Aman underwent a debulking surgery as COVID-19 restrictions prevented anyone from being by his side. A biopsy of his tumour revealed the shocking truth that he had a GBM.
He underwent chemotherapy and intensive radiotherapy while his family privately funded a protocol with a naturopath from Australia. They also crowdfunded to pay for private immunotherapy treatment and specifically-formulated vaccines, but Aman died soon after, leaving behind his wife of six years and their 22-month-old son, Rajan.
Following his death, Sonia took part in the Brain Tumour Research charity’s Jog 26.2 Miles in May Challenge, raising £3,269.
In appreciation of her fundraising efforts, Sonia, from Birmingham in the West Midlands, Jasdip, from Ruislip, Gian, Raj and Anoop, from Osterley in West London, and Jagdip, from Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, were among a select group of supporters given the opportunity to tour the research centre’s labs, led by principal investigator Professor Silvia Marin.
They spoke to scientists about their work to find a cure and placed a tile – representative of the £2,740 it costs to fund a day of research – on the centre’s Wall of Hope.
Sonia said: “As we move forward as a family, we want to be able to help and support others going through this. We’ve met other families on this journey and we’re trying to help them now in whatever way we can. Being able to sponsor a day of research is a step in the right direction as it will enable progress to be made in the quest for a cure.
“Whilst placing a tile on the Wall of Hope in Aman’s memory was emotional, hearing about everything that’s being done to find a cure for this horrid disease was heartening and we left feeling hopeful for future patients. A cure must be found. Young people can’t keep dying needlessly from brain tumours.”
Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “Aman’s story is heartbreaking, but, sadly, with one in three people knowing someone affected by this disease, it’s not unique. Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet, historically, just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.
“We want to change this but it’s only by working together that we will be able to improve treatment options for patients and, ultimately, find a cure. We’re really grateful to Sonia and her family for their support and admire them for channelling their grief into helping others.”
To read Aman’s story, visit www.braintumourresearch.org/stories/in-our-hearts/in-our-hearts-stories/aman-sumal or, to find out more about Sponsoring a Day of research, go to www.braintumourresearch.org/fundraise/sponsor-a-day.