SHOCK DIAGNOSIS: Keri McInerney's fight for her life
AFTER discovering a brain aneurysm behind her right eye, Australia Day award recipient, Commonwealth Games baton bearer and much-loved Fraser Coast singer Keri McInerney is fighting for her life.
MRI scans have revealed that the Category 1 aneurysm is sitting in the worst possible position, just above the pituitary gland and on the main carotid artery, which provides blood flow to the spine, nerves and the ophthalmic artery, which provides blood flow to the eyes.
It's inoperable by craniotomy due to fears of paralysis, so Keri's only hope of survival is to undergo flow diversion and coiling surgery to stop any blood flow to the aneurysm.
A team of 20 surgeons have mapped the safest procedure and the extremely complex surgery will be performed by Dr Leggart at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane on February 14, which comes with a high risk of the aneurysm bursting and a 99percent chance of causing blindness.
"I've got no choice, really. I am in the fight for my life, it's a battle, and I'm hoping I'm going to win it," Keri said.
"I'm not saying I'm not scared because I am but I really feel like I want to keep going and I hope they get me through this.
"At the moment I feel like a ticking time bomb and it's an awful sensation.
"I know I'm strong, I call myself a warrior and I try and focus on that but every day I wake up and say - I'm awake to see the sunrise.
"I know it's pretty cliche but everything changes when you have this life-defining moment."
In addition to the aneurysm, doctors also discovered a cyst on the left back sphenoid sinus, and white matter on the brain, possibly causing Keri to have small silent strokes and epileptic fits due to lack of blood flow. This will be defined when Keri is assessed by a neurologist after her brain surgery recovery.
"It is (cyst) a nasty little thing sitting under the pituitary gland but the doctor is comfortable with it at this time."
"Then they tell me that they found white matter on the brain ... it's not a good thing to have but it's a centralised tiny little patch in the back of my brain. I've just got to wait and see.
"I'm just going to stay as positive as I can, go with my down moments, cry if I need to and focus on the next step." Keri said the toll her condition is taking on her family and friends, and the unthinkable outcome of never seeing her one-year-old and three-year-old grandsons again, is weighing heavily on her mind.
"I think the scary thing more than anything is that I have these beautiful grandsons and I'm just getting to know them and it's been a really hard thing to have in the back of my mind."
"And also just my music ... I just started a new band and started recording and the impact this is having on my family and friends has been really hard.
"I keep on saying that I really feel grateful because there's been a lot of great things I've experienced in my life; I'm thankful for my career but this has changed the focus of my life.
"It's really changed everything that I thought was important before."
Looking back, Keri said changes to her eyes started about two-and-a-half years ago but she just put it down to ageing.
But the day she stood in front of her bathroom mirror, unable to see the left side of her face, she knew there was something seriously wrong.
Keri's strong message to the Fraser Coast community is to trust your body and push for answers.
"I couldn't really see out of my left eye ... it was like whiteness. I went into the bathroom and was looking at my face and I couldn't see my left side."
"I had been to the optometrist numerous times but I kept seeing all these visual disturbances so I went to Richard Watt in Hervey Bay and I'm so grateful to him and his team for not thinking I was a nut case.
"They did tests there and were so thorough and ended up sending me to the eye institute in Brisbane.
"I was diagnosed from an MRI at the Mater Hospital on November 15."
Keri is humbled and thankful for the messages of support on her Facebook page and donations to her GoFundMe page, set up by her good friend Jenny Jones who is also hosting a charity concert in Pomona on February 9.
While it has been difficult for Keri to receive financial support, she is grateful for the help to cover the cost of the $12,500 surgery.
At the time of going to print the GoFundMe page had raised $2955 of the $10,000 goal.
"I am usually on the other side of helping people so for me to be in need right now ... it's a bit scary."
"The surgery, along with all these different specialists that I'm seeing, are very costly.
"It's a really difficult thing. I think I've always just been the doer and the giver and I don't like taking much at all.
"I'm glad and grateful that's who I am but being in this situation with all this help coming in is weird.
"It's overwhelming to feel so much love right now."
Donations can be made to Keri by visiting the GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/lets- do-this-for-keri.
A CONCERT FOR KERI
A FACEBOOK friend who has never met Keri McInerney in person is raising funds to help save the Hervey Bay resident's life.
Wollongong resident and events co-ordinator, Jenny Jones, met Keri through Facebook about nine
years ago while connecting with each other to assist
a young music student
who was diagnosed with cancer.
Now, with Keri's brain aneurysm diagnosis, Jenny couldn't sit by and watch her friend struggle in a time of financial hardship.
Jenny started the Friends of Keri McInerney Facebook page, which now has 500 members, and is holding a charity concert at the Majestic Theatre in Pomona on February 9.
"We have never met each other in person but that's how we bonded ... we became great friends through Facebook and connecting through
helping other people,"
"She has done so much and it would be so nice if everyone could get on board and give her some help for a change."
Nestled in the quaint town near Noosa, Jenny encourages Fraser Coast residents to pack up a tent or caravan and take advantage of camping facilities at the Pomona Showgrounds.
On stage will be Hervey Bay's Jon Vea Vea Band, Ross Williams with Steve Tebbett, Gary Cosgrove, Boi & Skae, Town, Ebb'n'Flo, House Band including Gary Broadhurst, Mal Zego, Rachel Clancy, Lee King, and comedian and MC Kenny Bennett.
There will be a bar, outdoor chill area, food and beverages.
The event will run from 4-10pm. Tickets are $35 adults, $15 for children under 12 years.
Tickets can be bought online at trybooking.com.