Olivia Phelan and friends Connor's Run

Profiling Ependymoma – Olivia Phelan

Saturday 26 September is Childhood Brain Cancer Awareness Day, this year the focus is on ependymoma.

Olivia Phelan was 15-years-old when she was diagnosed with an ependymoma in January 2017. The shock diagnosis saw Olivia undergo major surgery. She was treated by Dr Jordan Hansford, an oncologist the Robert Connors Dawes Foundation works closely with. Olivia was eligible to to take part in the AIM Brain Project, allowing rapid access to the best and most accurate diagnostic information about her tumour.

The AIM Brain project is an RCD initiative that helps doctors better understand individual types of tumours. With better understanding, treatments can be better tailored to the individual brain tumour battlers to increase their odds of beating the cancer and in some cases, not risk being over treated. You can read more about the initiative here

When Olivia’s dad Martin realised it was the RCD Foundation who funded the AIM initiative, he decided to take action. In March 2017 Martin organised a bike ride around the island of Singapore, raising more than $51,000 to support the RCD Foundation in continuing programs like AIM.

Like most young people treated for brain cancer, Olivia experienced several side effects.

“After treatment It took a while to get over the tiredness from treatment, as well as mental fatigue and trouble concentrating which made it quite hard in finishing high school. It was also hard being separated from most of my family a lot of the time who live overseas in Singapore” Olivia said.

Olivia is now 19-years-old, busy studying a degree in exercise science and nutrition as well as a certificate III in fitness. Pre-COVID she spent her time with friends and going out for dinner and cocktails, as well as travelling, and any form of physical activity like running or pilates. After COVID she hopes to travel with friends around Europe and Canada.

We’re proud to have Olivia, along with her dad, Martin as legacy ambassadors. You can read more about them and our other ambassadors here


Olivia and her mum


For Connor’s Run this year Martin has pledged to ride 188km each week in Singapore’s tropical heat. He will be donating $0.5/km and has invited supporters to pledge even a few cents/km to spur on his efforts. He’s currently raised over $5,000.

Olivia is also taking part in Connor’s Run again this year, she plans on running 100km during September. You can make a donation to their team page  here