Man’s challenge of a lifetime to honour mother who died of deadly brain tumour

(Samaj Weekly)- A Bristol man is preparing to trek to K2 Base Camp in Pakistan to fundraise for the charity Brain Tumour Research after his mother died from the deadly disease.

On 8 July, Saadat Mumtaz, 48, of Portishead, will be joined by his two sons, 18-year-old Sinan, who is due to begin a BSc in Pharmacology at the University of Bristol and 20-year-old Hashim, a third year Chemistry student at Cardiff University. The trio will attempt to reach K2 Base Camp, the world’s second highest mountain, which lies in the Karakoram range.

Mother-of-five, Saeeda Bano, from Sargodha in Pakistan, was 29 when she was diagnosed with an inoperable glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in December 1983, after spells of passing out from debilitating headaches.

Despite an operation to relieve hydrocephalus – a build-up of fluid on her brain caused by the tumour, and a trip to London for a second opinion at a private clinic in Harley Street, Marylebone, treatment options were limited. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy were deemed “too risky” and she tragically died five years after her diagnosis, on January 16 1988 aged 34.

Business owner Saadat, who is also a foster parent to two teenagers said: “I’ve trekked many of North Pakistan’s mountains before, to a height of 3000m, however I know that getting to Base Camp will be as much of a mental challenge as it is a physical one.”

 The challenge of a lifetime will see the family members trekking treacherous paths taking them across Baltoro Glacier, passing four 8,000m mountains along the way, eventually reaching K2’s Concordia Base Camp, which sits at an eyewatering 5,100 metres.

His epic fundraising quest is in aid of two charities: Brain Tumour Research in memory of his late mother and Parkinson’s UK in honour of his 84-year-old father, who was diagnosed with the disease 22 years ago.

Saadat said: “After our mother’s diagnosis, she spent every moment caring for me and my four siblings – something I understand now. She realised she wasn’t going to survive the disease and I find it hard to comprehend that even now, treatment options for people diagnosed with a brain tumour are limited.”

The extreme-hiker and his two sons will be heading to the Sarfaranga Cold Desert North of Skardu (ranked as the world’s highest and coldest desert) at the end of June to acclimatise to the high altitudes they will face as they take on one of the highest peaks in the world, only second to Mount Everest in Nepal.

He added: “As a child you learn to be resilient, and I had to learn this quickly as the second oldest sibling. My mum passed out in front of me a few times when I was younger, it was terrifying, and I would help her to bed to rest until she felt well again.”

 “I remember my parents were at a hospital appointment more than 240km away from where we were being looked after by my aunty. I was determined to visit my mother and support both parents and made the journey on my own as a 14-year-old child, travelling from Sargodha to Lahore navigating public transport with little money and as a young boy – my parents were shocked when I arrived.

 “My sister, Alia thinks I am crazy for taking on this challenge but it’s something I have felt passionate about ever since my mother’s diagnosis.”

Mel Tiley, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “We’re sorry to hear about Saeeda’s death after she was diagnosed with a GBM. Unfortunately, the family’s story is not an isolated one and demonstrates the need of further funding into research for the many types of brain tumours that exist. Treatment options haven’t progressed enough since Saeeda’s diagnosis and we’re still in desperate need of more funding to help find a cure for the disease. We’re thankful for Saadat and his sons’ fundraising for Brain Tumour Research and wish them well on their epic challenge.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.

To sponsor Saadat and his family on their fundraising trek please visit https://tinyurl.com/53ju68vx