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Model remembers 'every moment' of being awake for brain surgery

Australian model and Instagram influencer Emily Sears recounted a recent “surreal” surgical experience.
/ Source: TODAY

Emily Sears is on the mend after undergoing brain surgery last week — while wide awake.

On Monday, the Australian model and Instagram influencer opened up about the “surreal” experience with her nearly 5 million followers.

“So, last Thursday, I had brain surgery!” the 35-year-old wrote alongside a photo taken shortly after that at UCLA’s neurosurgical until. “I’ve delayed posting this because I don’t even know where to begin. The past year of my life is so hard to put into words.”

Sears went on to explain that the ordeal began in April of last year, when a major seizure sent her to the hospital. Tests soon revealed she had a cavernous malformation, or cavernoma, in her brain.

According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, cavernomas are lesions "characterized by multiple distended ‘caverns’ of blood-filled vasculature through which the blood flows very slowly.” Seizures are a common symptom and often necessitate surgical removal of the lesions, as was the case for Sears.

“This past year has been a roller coaster of the up and downs of having multiple seizures, side effects of medication trials and the emotional toll of everything in my world changing so suddenly,” she explained in her post. “I chose to have this surgery because my choices came down to living on medication for the rest of my life, always living with the likelihood of having breakthrough seizures even while medicated — or going ahead with the craniotomy surgery. Because the cavernoma was located in the front left temporal lobe, I risked losing my ability to speak as that is the speech function area of the human brain.”

It was because of that risk, that doctors required feedback directly from her during surgery.

“I was awake while they operated as I needed to be able to speak to make sure they didn’t remove any vital tissue along with the blood vessels,” Sears explained. “I remember every moment of being awake, there was 2 surgeons and one waved at me.. it was as strange and surreal as it sounds!”

But that strange time on the operating table ushered in a new lease on life.

“Ultimately, this experience has changed my world view more than I could ever express, and the overall feeling I am left with is gratitude,” she continued. “I have a deepened respect for the human body, the human mind and the human soul. I am humbly grateful for the ability to access healthcare, for the fact that my condition had a cure and for the support of my friends, family, industry peers and for my incredible man who has stuck by me the whole time.”

And then the model, who spends so much time sharing glamorous photos and promoting an aspirational lifestyle on social media, added an important point for her followers to keep in mind.

“I want to remind everyone that IG is never the whole picture of our lives,” she wrote. “You don’t know what people are going through - so always be kind.”