Meet Niki, Geelong single Mum of two. After having recovered from a second brain surgery, she now plans to trek the El Camino to raise awareness and funds for sufferers of aneurysms and its survivors.
4 years ago whilst being treated for MS, an MRI revealed that Niki had a terminal ICA aneurysm. She was referred to the neurosurgery unit and it became evident that surgical clipping was her only option. Niki had her first surgery almost two years later, the delay came about due to her mother passing away and not having support available for her then 8 year old daughter, who is neuro-diverse and requires a lot of support.
The first surgery was unsuccessful. Bone pierced Niki’s brain and caused a haemorrhage and surgery was stopped. Niki says tells us ‘the recovery was gruelling and I struggled through both brain injury related deficits and mental health issues. These are common post brain bleed and rupture experiences even in successful scenarios.’ More reasons to raise awareness.
Six months post surgery it was discovered that the aneurysm was growing and Niki arranged a referral to a new hospital. They acted quite quickly and booked her in less than a month later for craniotomy number two. Niki delayed until her son had finished his exams and once that date passed she had 5 days notice to prepare and surgery took place on June 20th this year.
This time surgery was successful and Niki says her recovery has been remarkably different.
‘The things that stand out to me most over my 4 year journey, is the lack of supports and awareness around aneurysms. There is next to no financial support despite the significant impacts and a massive lack of education and awareness which otherwise could be life saving.’
Between surgeries Niki has spent a lot of time brainstorming ways to change this: apps, websites and hopefully building a foundation to support and advocate for people with aneurysms. This includes her plans to walk the El Camino trek to educate people worldwide about aneurysms and the related impacts. Just twelve days out of surgery Niki is already beginning physical training for the trek, researching sponsorship options and working on building a team of aneurysm survivors to help build the app and the website.
On Friday the 12th of July they are holding a fundraiser at Supatramp to kick start the fundraising process. Niki and her team hope to raise enough money to get the website and app under way and start a merchandise line, which will hopefully be a sustainable source of income for the organisation.
Niki is inspired by Christiaan ‘Otter’ Bailey the surfer and his journey, “Inspiration denotes thought, empowerment implies action.”
Story: Jacqui Bennett Photo: supplied