'I was awake': Aussie model opens up about 'terrifying' brain surgery

Sarah Carty
Features & Style Editor

An Australian model has revealed the terrifying details of her brain surgery, sharing with her followers that she was wide awake for the whole thing and even saw the surgeons waving at her. 

Emily Sears, who has 4.9 million followers on Instagram, opened up about last Thursday’s surgery, saying this past year of her life has been ‘so hard to put into words’.  

Emily Sears, has revealed the terrifying ordeal she went through during brain surgery. Photo: Instagram/Emily Sears

The 35-year-old explained that last April she woke up in an ambulance after having a major seizure while shopping. 

After a few days of tests, she was diagnosed with cavernous malformations, otherwise known as a cavernoma, a cluster of abnormal blood vessels in the brain which cause epileptic seizures.

“My whole life was put on hold from that point on from my work life to my social life, my relationship with my body and my identity,” she said in an emotional Instagram post. 

“This past year has been a rollercoaster 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.”

Emily went on to say she chose to have surgery because she was facing the prospect of living on medication for the rest of her life, “always living with the likelihood of having breakthrough seizures even while medicated-or going ahead with the craniotomy surgery”.

Emily had brain surgery on Thursday. Photo: Instagram/Emily Sears

“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,” she continued. 

“Because of this; 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. I remember every moment of being awake, there were 2 surgeons and one waved at me.. it was as strange and surreal as it sounds.”

Emily said the experience has changed her views of the world more than she can express, leaving her with a deep gratitude for the human body, mind and 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. I want to remind everyone that IG is never the whole picture of our lives; you don’t know what people are going through - so always be kind,” she wrote. 


A picture posted alongside the caption shows Emily in her hospital bed, with bandages wrapped around her head. 

“More strength to you,” The Project host and comedian Peter Helliar commented. 

“My God Emily, how terrifying. I’m so glad you are ok, what a moving post. I am sending positive energy your way. Praying for healing,” journalist Lisa Ling said. 

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