Potton woman calls for more research into brain tumours after father's devastating diagnosis

A loving daughter from Potton is speaking out about her father’s terminal illness in a bid to raise awareness of the need for greater investment in research.

By News Reporter
Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 3:22 pm
Baljit Mehat. Image: The Mehat family.
Baljit Mehat. Image: The Mehat family.

Simran Poonia was left stunned by her father, Baljit Mehat’s shock brain tumour diagnosis last year.

The 34-year-old social worker said: “It came completely out of the blue and we were left shocked, wondering why us? What had caused it?”

Baljit, a 59-year-old father-of-four from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, was on his way to a football match when he became shaky and confused in October 2021. He was driven to hospital where scans detected a mass on his brain.

Baljit (left) after surgery. Image: The Mehat family.

Within weeks he was undergoing brain surgery but the Covid restrictions in place meant that he was without his family for support.

Simran said: “Knowing that he had woken up from surgery alone, without the comfort of having someone familiar with him, was the worst thing.

"The fact that you could go to a football match and sit among thousands of people but Mum wasn’t even allowed to sit by his hospital bed made me so angry.”

A biopsy of Baljit’s tumour revealed the devastating news that he had a grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a fast-growing tumour that is very challenging to treat.

Baljit with his family (fourth from right). Image: The Mehat family.

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In January he started taking a drug called AZD1390 in combination with radiotherapy as part of a clinical trial. His tumour is currently stable and his doctors have told him to enjoy the things he wants to do whilst he is still fit and healthy enough to do so. His son, Kirpal, has even brought his wedding forward six months.

Simran said: “I wanted us to try and spend Christmas together and we did but it was bittersweet because my youngest sister ended up having a baby on December 29th, so couldn’t be with us.

“Dad was also weaker and too tired to do the things he usually does.

“I remember looking at him as he was carving the turkey and thinking how different he appeared. He never said it could be his last Christmas but I know we were all thinking it.”

She added: “My two sisters and I are married but my brother was due to marry his fiancée in April 2023 so we started thinking about whether to bring their wedding forward.

“It was a really difficult conversation to have but we said it was more about ensuring dad would enjoy the day rather than to do with concerns we had about him deteriorating or not be around at all if we waited.

“It’s now due to take place in October. We’ve had to change the venue but are all pitching in to help make it as special as can be.

“It’s painful to think about Dad not being with us but I feel like I’m prepared for what will happen. I’m not accepting it, but I am preparing for it.”

Simran is working with the charity Brain Tumour Research to share her father’s story during Glioblastoma Awareness Week (from July 18).

According to Brain Tumour Research, Glioblastoma is the most commonly diagnosed high-grade brain tumour in adults. It is fast-growing and the average survival time is just 12 to 18 months. Treatment options are extremely limited and there is no cure.