health

Courtney can't work, drive or go outside, because she can't afford the $100,000 brain surgery she needs.

While most recent graduates in their mid-twenties are stressing about entering an increasingly competitive job market, a young New South Wales woman is trying to raise money to pay for brain surgery.

As she sat her final exam for her Masters degree in June, Courtney Keady says her head was throbbing.

The 26-year-old had been experiencing splitting headaches and near-constant nausea for months but says she put it down as a reaction to the pressure of her last year of study.

“I’ve been having problems with my vision for about a year,” she told Mamamia.

I just thought it was anxiety with uni and I needed glasses.

“I was sitting my last exam and had one of the bad headaches. I was just thinking, ‘I’ve got to get through this exam and I’ll go to the doctor on Monday.”

Courtney with her parents at her graduation. Source: Supplied

An MRI revealed a 12mm cyst on the pineal gland in the middle of Courtney's brain, "roughly two-and-a-half times the size of the gland it's on," she said.

The pineal produces melatonin, a serotonin derived hormone which controls sleep patterns.

While her doctor told her it was nothing to worry about, the debilitating symptoms persisted. She pushed to have further tests, which she said revealed unidentified masses on the cyst.

A month after her graduation, Courtney went to see a neurosurgeon who told her her case was "too complex" to operate on.

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"I'm in bed most days. I'm not able to drive at the moment. I have headaches. I want to vomit all day every day. With the doctors we’ve ruled out medication-induced nausea. My focus and memory, my cognition has declined a lot. I repeat myself a lot, I’m tired," she said, adding she had no option but to move back into her parents' Crookwell home.

Courtney's symptoms have made it difficult for her to leave the house. Source: Supplied

"I'm not able to work. I've had to move home with mum and dad. I've been diagnosed with depression… it's gotten worse," she said.

Last week, after seeing a series of specialists, she sent her scans to Professor Charlie Teo, an internationally renowned neurosurgeon and a pioneer in keyhole surgical techniques for brain cancer treatment.

"His staff called me within a day and a half of receiving my scans and booked me in to discuss operating on the tumour," Courtney explained on a GoFundMe page that has now been set up to pay for the surgery, which has been costed at around $110,000 in total — including $50,000 up front.

People have already donated more than $13,000.

"It's people that we know, people that we don’t, people that I went to school with that I haven’t seen in ten years. It's just been an amazing outpouring on support," she said.

Courtney will see Prof Teo on November 15 and — in addition to the GoFundMe page — her family have set up a number of fundraising events to try to get her there.

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