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Nicole’s brainstorm sparks corporate support

Canberra, 27 Aug 2016

Nicole Callan’s glass-half-full attitude to life is immediately obvious when she talks about her experience over the past two years.

“Many people with brain cancer don’t survive but I’m fortunate I did and I just get on with life,” says Callan, who works in Macquarie Group’s Canberra office.

In early 2015 she was diagnosed with a slow-growing meningioma, a tumour in her brain which had grown to about the size of a golf ball.

“The ‘tail’ of the tumour was the immediate problem and had to be operated on straight away,” Callan says now. “Six days after seeing my specialist neurosurgeon, Dr Charlie Teo, I was on the operating table.”

After recovering from her life-saving surgery, Callan decided to “give back” through fundraising for the high-profile Australian neurosurgeon’s Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.

Teo established the Foundation in 2001 and today it is a leading organisation for brain cancer research, advocacy and awareness in Australia. It aims to increase the five-year survival rate of people living with brain cancer to 50 per cent by 2023. With approximately 1,600 brain cancers diagnosed each year in Australia, currently only two in ten people will survive for at least five years.

Since her operation, Callan has had some minor problems with her memory but, as she notes, she is “one of the lucky ones” and happy to support an organisation which helps others facing the same challenges.

“I enjoy raising funds for Dr Teo’s foundation. As he says, he’s the best at what he does but he is more interested in directing it all to the science to ultimately find a cure.”

Callan was on the event organising committee for Cure Brain Cancer Foundation’s annual ‘Brainstorm’ event held in Canberra recently. The 800-seat event sold out two months in advance with the aim of raising $A250,000 for brain cancer research. Funds raised on the night ended up totalling more than $370,000.

As part of her involvement in the event, Callan rallied support from her colleagues in Canberra and the Macquarie Group Foundation, enabling Macquarie’s platinum sponsorship of the event.

“I had two goals,” Callan says. “Raise money for a foundation started by a man who saved my life, and highlight Macquarie because they looked after me so well it’s hard to put into words when I got sick. Mission accomplished!”

“Nicole is a real doer and without her efforts to get Macquarie on board with supporting the event we wouldn’t have had so much success this year,” says Amanda Fintan, event organiser of Brainstorm.

“It’s been amazing how much support and enthusiasm she has brought to the event, and it’s been our best ever.”

Image caption: Macquarie employee and brain cancer research advocate Nicole Callan.