Mum's chronic headaches turned out to be a sign of something very sinister

Melissa Buttigieg
News Reporter

A young NSW mum was terrified to discover her chronic headaches were actually an 11cm by 10cm cyst inside her brain and now says she feels like a ‘ticking time bomb’.

Mum of four Sarah Holden is now more than half-way to her goal of raising $100,000 for life-saving surgery to remove the growth that could end her life without warning.

In January, was given the tragic news that the growth in her brain was the cause of the chronic headaches, blackouts, vision loss, and vomiting she had been experiencing for months.

Doctors told the 35-year-old the growth, thought to be a rare pineal cystic brain tumour, could kill her, and devastatingly it was inoperable.

NSW mother of four Sarah Holden is racing against the clock to raise $100,000 more for life-saving surgery to remove a brain tumour that could end her life. Source: Sarah Holden

Since her diagnosis, the woman from Wangi Wangi, Lake Macquarie, has suffered a stroke as a result to the tumour, which left her unable to speak for three days.

Determined to stick around to watch her four girls, aged four to 15, grow up, Ms Holden tracked down world-leading neurosurgeon Charlie Teo, who agreed to perform surgery to remove it.

An MRI shows the suspected pineal cystic tumour, in the centre of Sarah Holden’s brain, causing chronic daily headaches, episodic blackouts, vision loss, hearing loss, nausea and insomnia. Source: Sarah Holden

Ms Holden cried when Dr Teo told her he had successfully performed more than 100 similar surgeries, and gave her a 95 per cent chance of survival if she had the tumour removed.

“He told me ‘I can help you’,” she told Yahoo7 of the surgeon’s lifeline.

“I cried. I was very quiet for a few days.”

The 35-year-old mum is racing the clock to raise $100,000 for surgery to remove the  brain tumour, that could kill her without the operation. Source: Sarah Holden

Ms Holden, who previously worked as a supermarket manager and a receptionist, said Dr Teo hoped to operate immediately, but the only thing standing in her way is about $47,000 more.

Ms Holden has already raised $53,400 – more than half of the what’s needed for surgery through donations on her GoFundMe page combined with a fundraising event – but she’s still a way off.

She thanked the many people who have donated already and those who supported her fundraising event.

“Every dollar makes a difference,” the mum said.

Sarah Holden is hopeful she’ll be able to raise the rest of the money to have the surgery and watch her our girls (including Larna left, and Tara right) grow up.  Source: Sarah Holden

She has been booked in for surgery in September with Dr Teo, but only has a month to raise the remaining funds or the surgery will be postponed until she can come up with $100,000 – with November being the next available date.

While she is positive she can meet her goal soon, Ms Holden is fearful the time to raise the remaining funds for her life-saving operation is running out.

“I want to be here for my girls tomorrow,” she said.

“I feel like I am walking around like a ticking time bomb.

“It could be a click of the fingers and I am gone,” she said.