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Young dad died after noticing his speech was slurred

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A young dad who began feeling sick and noticed his speech slurring died after a devastating diagnosis.

Aria Nikjooy had to go home from his work as a paediatric trainee doctor after suffering headaches.

Two days later the then 27-year-old began feeling nauseous.

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After seeing his doctor he was sent for an MRI, where doctors found a mass on his brain.

Once a biopsy was taken doctors diagnosed Aria with grade 4 cerebellar medulloblastoma, more commonly known as a brain tumour.

Aria had a seven hour surgery at Salford Royal Hospital on November 9, 2018 and was put onto the high dependency unit.

The 27-year-old’s head was ‘constantly spinning’ and in a diary explained how he was ‘given every drug and pill in the book’ to manage his nausea.

Aria in hospital after his brain surgery
Aria in hospital after his brain surgery

He said he recalled hearing the term ‘guinea pig’ when doctors were describing his treatment.

But after a three-year battle with the disease following countless drugs, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, Aria died in February 2021.

The death left his family and loved ones devastated, which led to a group of close friends who went to school with him organising to take on the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge in his memory.

On Saturday 16 October, mechanical engineer John Rapinet, from Aigburth, Liverpool, will be joined by a group of four friends who all attended secondary school together in Sheffield, to raise money for Brain Tumour Research.

Accompanying 30-year-old John on the 25-mile circular route will be James Royle, 30, Reza Ali, 30, Simon Rolley, 30 and Chris Slack, 30. They’ll be summiting Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, the three highest peaks in Yorkshire, dressed as characters from the children’s books Aria wrote.

John, who works for VolkerStevin, said: “Aria went through surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy to try to keep his tumour at bay. “Then, in March last year, the tumour came back and he had a second brain surgery.

“Devastatingly, a second recurrence came four months later, resulting in another brain operation and more cancer treatment.

“He was forging a great career as a doctor in Manchester. He leaves behind his wife, Naomi, and their young son, Eliyas.

“Aria was best man at my wedding in 2019; we were really close. Our friendship group has always been tight-knit and we have all been supporting each other through our grief.”

While he was living with the disease, Aria turned to writing and he published a children’s fiction book to help explain the complex issues surrounding illness and cancer to Eliyas, who was a toddler at the time.

His friends will now be dressing as some of the characters from the books he wrote.

The schoolmates were inspired to raise funds after their good friend Aria Nikjooy lost his life
The schoolmates were inspired to raise funds after their good friend Aria Nikjooy lost his life

John said said: “I will be wearing a green stegosaurus costume, James will be dressed as a triceratops and Simon and Reza are dressing up as lions.

“We think Aria would’ve found it funny, so that’s why we’re doing it, as well as to help raise awareness of the great work he did while he was bravely battling this awful disease.”

When they were at school, John and Aria took part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme together and so John thought the Three Peaks was a ‘fitting’ challenge to attempt.

He said: “Ironically, Aria wasn’t very outdoorsy at all. We did our Silver and Gold awards together, which involved some long hikes in the Lake District. I remember getting lost a lot. Aria hated walking but he was determined to complete his awards, as he hoped it would help him to get into medical school.”

“None of us are particularly fit, so this will be a tough challenge.”

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.

Matthew Price, Brain Tumour Research’s Community Development Manager, said: “We are so grateful to John, Simon, James, Reza and Chris for taking on this brilliant challenge to raise money to help find a cure for brain tumours. We wish them all the best for the walk.

“Aria’s tragic story reminds us that brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone, at any time. What’s more, unlike most other cancers, incidences of and deaths from brain tumours are rising. We cannot allow this devastating situation to continue.”

To make a donation to Brain Tumour Research in support of John and the team, please visit:

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