A POSTMAN from Leominster who had to retire after being diagnosed with a brain tumour said he has gone through the toughest year of his life.

It was when postman Mike Hart, 60, was visiting family in Whitley Bay near Newcastle in January 2019 that his wife Linda noticed he was walking into people, lamp posts and losing his balance.

Then when driving, Mr Hart realised he couldn't find the gear stick as he had lost his peripheral vision on his left side.

He put it down to the stress of all the extra hours he had worked in the run up to Christmas, the busiest time of the year for a postman.

He said: "I didn't feel unwell at all. In my 35 years as a postman I have only had three days off sick."

After returning home, Mr Hart was persuaded by Linda, a legal secretary to see his GP. Within 24 hours of the results of the MRI scan being received, he was transferred to a neurosurgeon at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

Once there, he was given the devastating news that he had a grade 4 brain tumour, a glioblastoma, on the right hand side of his brain.

He was told that the tumour would require surgery and he had the operation two weeks later, on February 18.

Remarkably he was discharged home the day after. In April 2019 he started a six-week course of radiotherapy, Monday to Friday, at Cheltenham General Hospital.

Mr Hart said: "It was such a bombshell to be told I had a brain tumour.

"I hardly had time to come to terms with this news because everything had to happen so quickly. Facing brain surgery was pretty daunting, not just for me, but for Linda and my kids as well.

"I was so relieved it went well. Then it was straight on with radiotherapy."

The couple, who have three children and four grandchildren, were told by good friends they had read about a clinical trial which Mr Hart might be suitable for.

Dr Paul Mulholland was leading a immunotherapy clinical trial and he was looking for recently diagnosed brain cancer patients, funded by The National Brain Appeal charity.

They got in touch with Dr Mulholland and went to see him in London at University College Hospital, who said Mr Hart was eligible for the trial which involved having up to four doses of the drug ipilimumab by infusion.

Mr Hart had his first infusion at the end of May 2019, but after the second he developed a rash which showed that his immune system was reacting to the drug.

Dr Mulholland decided to wait two months before he gave the next infusion, until the rash disappeared. He then went on to have the final two infusions in October.

The final part of the trial was to take chemotherapy tablets and Mike completed the course of these in January 2020. He continues to be monitored by Dr Mulholland with regular follow up appointments.

Mr Hart, who was medically retired by Royal Mail earlier this year due to his treatment preventing him from being able to drive, added: "I'm so grateful to my friend Lin for finding out about Dr Mulholland and for being able to take part in the immunotherapy clinical trial and to The National Brain Appeal charity for funding it for patients like me.

"Last year was the toughest I have ever had to face."