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Headaches al­luded Marcela Sandin to a dark se­cret.

The Mata­mata mother of three was di­ag­nosed with a brain tu­mour just 12 days ago.

A month of headaches prompted the school cleaner to visit her doc­tor.

‘‘The last two weeks it was get­ting worse and worse.

‘‘ I went to the ap­point­ment think­ing they were go­ing to say, ‘it’s a mi­graine, go home’ but no, he did ev­ery­thing on me and said can you go now to emer­gency at Waikato Hos­pi­tal? I said now? He said yes, as soon as pos­si­ble.’’

Sandin said her doc­tor didn’t want to worry her, but he saw some­thing in her eyes.

Sandin said the staff at the hos­pi­tal moved quickly and were ef­fi­cient. She was in hos­pi­tal for two days un­der­go­ing scans and blood tests.

What they found was a 4cm tu­mour.

Sandin, who works at Mata­mata In­ter­me­di­ate and Firth School and pre­vi­ously at Pohlen Hos­pi­tal, will now have brain surgery.

‘‘It’s the only way I’ve got to sur­vive. Noth­ing else can do it.’’

It’s not known if the tu­mour is can­cer­ous or be­nign.

‘‘The doc­tors say with the MRI and scans it looks like it’s be­nign, but after the surgery and a biopsy they will see if it’s be­nign or not. They need to take it out first.’’

Sandin, who is orig­i­nally from Uruguay, ar­rived in New Zealand five years ago.

She and her fam­ily have lived in Mata­mata since ar­riv­ing in the coun­try. ‘‘We love it here,’’ she said. How­ever, the fam­ily doesn’t have res­i­dency, only work­ing visas. They hoped to one day be­come cit­i­zens.

‘‘We want to be here for­ever,’’ Sandin said.

The fam­ily aren’t sure how much surgery will cost, but it could pos­si­bly be around $50,000.

‘‘It’s not just the surgery, it’s what comes after that,’’ she said.

Re­cov­ery from surgery will take be­tween six months and a year. She won’t be well enough to work.

Things have moved quickly. Sandin said she was lucky be­cause she had a warn­ing.

The headaches, de­spite be­ing painful, al­luded to a dark se­cret within her own body.

‘‘The doc­tors said that kind of tu­mour, it nor­mally doesn’t say any­thing, when you are blind it’s too late.

‘‘I’m lucky they found it early so they can take it out.’’

It makes her heart swell to know her friends, fam­ily and now the wider com­mu­nity are right be­hind her.

‘‘ Peo­ple that I’ve never met be­fore are help­ing me with a lot of money,’’ she said.

It’s this support that makes Sandin emo­tional.

Surgery will be tak­ing place in the next week or so. ‘‘The time is go­ing so slow.’’ She hopes noth­ing will hap­pen, but Sandin said be­fore the op­er­a­tion she is at risk of blood clots, heart at­tack and seizures.

De­spite be­ing di­ag­nosed just days ago, the Mata­mata com­mu­nity has al­ready ral­lied around Sandin.

The kind- hearted woman wanted to thank all those who have al­ready of­fered support. ‘‘Ev­ery­thing counts,’’ she said.

She doesn’t want to think about it but Sandin is wor­ried about her and her hus­band’s work visa that ex­pires in March.

‘‘I don’t know if they’re go­ing to re­new it.’’

She says news of her tu­mour has been es­pe­cially hard for her chil­dren to ac­cept.

Six­teen-year-old Bruno stays at home to help care for his mum be­cause she can’t be left on her own.

‘‘My hus­band and him, they’re cry­ing all the time. My lit­tle one [ 4- year- old Lu­cas], he doesn’t un­der­stand what I have, but he un­der­stands ev­ery­thing else around.’’

In­ter­me­di­ate prin­ci­pal Mar­ion Hen­rik­sen said it was sad to see Sandin in this con­di­tion.

‘‘It’s lovely that ev­ery­one in our school com­mu­nity and hope­fully ev­ery­one in the Mata­mata com­mu­nity will get be­hind her and help her get through this.’’

‘‘ I’m so thank­ful,’’ Sandin added.

But Sandin said she was most thank­ful that her mum and el­dest son are on their way from Uruguay.

‘‘It’s the best thing that I have be­cause when I knew about that [the tu­mour] I was think­ing about them.

‘‘In your mind you don’t want to think neg­a­tive, but I’m go­ing to have my fam­ily with me.’’

By TERESA HAT­TAN

Photo: TERESA HAT­TAN

FUNDRAIS­ING: Mata­mata woman Marcela Sandin, far right, pic­tured with Mata­mata In­ter­me­di­ate stu­dents, from left, Olivia War­ren­der, 11, Oceanna Paul, 12, and Chloe Lowe, 11, with the gro­ceries do­nated by rooms 7 and 8.

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