Craig Bowater

Matthew McCarron

For Matthew, a seizure in the dead of night was the start of unexpected and unpredictable journey. An otherwise active and healthy 37-year-old, Matthew was rushed to Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, where subsequent scans identified a suspected brain tumour.

After consulting with several specialists on the pathway forward, Matt underwent a craniotomy performed by TBCG co-founder Dr Raymond Cook. Further tests revealed that Matthew had a high-grade astrocytoma and required chemoradiation treatment followed by chemotherapy delivered under the care of TBCG Directors, Associate Professors Helen Wheeler and Michael Back.

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Throughout his treatment, Matthew has been able to maintain an active career.  He has continued in his role as CEO of Lewis Land Group, one of Australia’s largest and oldest privately owned property groups.  He has also continued in several volunteer roles, including as a Director of Carriageworks, Australia’s largest multi-arts precinct.

Matthew lives in Sydney with his husband Edmundo and their six-year-old son Elliott.  More information about Matthew’s story is available HERE 

Evan Shonk

In November of 2004 Evan suffered a focal seizure to the left hand side of his body. It was this event that lead to him being diagnosed with a grade three glioma.

It was situated in the parietal lobe of the brain. This area is responsible for speech, comprehension and movement. Evan was operated on to hopefully remove the tumour. He also had chemotherapy and radiotherapy to reduce the risk of regrowth occurring.

Craig Bowater
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During the treatment phase he had two young children, was unable to work for a year or drive. He remembers that his life was tipped upside down. The stress of this period was exacerbated when both his brother Peter and his brother in law Joe, were diagnosed with brain tumors. Unfortunately, Evan was the only one to survive. Joe and Peter both left behind young families who had to struggle without a dad.

Evan had an excellent recovery with no re-occurring problems. He has been able to run his own business, and be there for his children. He sails, dives and is a Scout leader.

He is very grateful for his good health and feels compelled to help bring brain cancer into the public eye in the hope that there will be more funding made available for research and support.

Craig Bowater

Cassandra Bennett

Cassandra is an accountant, a mother, a wife, a daughter, and brain cancer patient. She was diagnosed with an astrocytoma in July 2018. Since then, she has been working to help improve the outcomes for brain cancer patients and their families.

After Cass was first diagnosed, she found a raft of information about brain cancer and treatments but was not able to find an easy way to manage all the information about her condition and related treatments. After receiving a gift from her friend, Kate, with a note pad and strategically placed Post-its to be used as bookmarks, Cass realised this might be the beginnings of a way to support patients and their families after they receive this confronting diagnosis.

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Finally, almost two years after Cass and Ana started working on it, this resource is going to be made available to families and patients diagnosed with brain cancer.

The Survivorship Diary has ten chapters that focus on each of the stages of treatment:

  • Diagnosis
  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Mental and Emotional Wellbeing
  • Seizures and Neurological Health
  • Living with Brain Cancer
  • Financial Notes
  • Palliative Care
  • Other Resources

The development of The Survivorship Diary  has been supported by many people and charities in the brain cancer community including Peace of Mind, The Brain Cancer Group,Care2Cure, Cure Brain Cancer, Brain Tumour Alliance Australia, Mark Hughes Foundation and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. 

Phil Reynolds

Phil Reynold’s life changed dramatically in August 2014 when his wife Caroline was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), the most aggressive and highest-grade brain tumour.

Caroline a normally happy, healthy 59-year-old began showing signs of uncharacteristic behaviour which led Phil to take her to the GP who diagnosed a urinary tract infection and prescribed antibiotics.

Unconvinced this was the cause of the change in Caroline’s behaviour, they decided to have a CT scan of the head to rule out a minor stroke or aneurism. The following day they returned for the results of the scan and were informed Caroline had an inoperable brain tumour.

A meeting with Neuro-Oncologist Associate Professor Helen Wheeler who specialises in primary brain tumours, confirmed the diagnosis.

Sindy Viney
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Through meeting Associate Professor Wheeler, Phil was introduced to The Brain Cancer Group (formerly the Sydney Neuro-Oncology Group (SNOG)), an organisation that would prove invaluable in Caroline’s treatment and provide care and support for Phil who suddenly became a primary carer for his wife.

The next 11 months Phil and Caroline lived their days together as best they could whilst Caroline’s health deteriorated. She passed away in the home she loved on the 27th of July 2015, surrounded by closest family and friends.

Phil’s role as a proud Ambassador for The Brain Cancer Group, enables him to increase his involvement in raising awareness, and advocate for patients, carers and everyone affected by brain cancer.

Manuel Mirzoian

Manuel Mirzoian

Manuel Mirzoian is a father to two teenage children and husband to Helen Mirzoian who, two years ago, passed away at age 48 from Brain Cancer.

Helen was a loving, caring, positive and inspirational woman to her family and friends. She worked at Telstra for many years in the public affairs department producing their internal monthly magazine. After becoming a mother to her children she was committed to raising her children and enjoying life to its fullest.

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couple-shotjpgFollowing Helen’s diagnosis, Manuel and Helen explored many avenues which included the latest treatments available at the time to keep this killer disease at bay. Unfortunately, none were able to stop it from becoming a grade 4 GBM but she did her very best for 12 years.

Since Helen’s passing, Manuel was inspired by her attitude to life and in her memory established Helen’s Hope, a not- for- profit organization with a two-fold mission: To raise awareness of the need for research funds that will help in the search of a cure for this disease and to provide financial support for services to brain cancer patients and their families.

Since its launch almost two years ago, Helen’s Hope has raised more than 14K for research and with it’s latest event, the 2016 Helen’s Bay Walk, they will begin to fulfil its 2nd part of its mission.

Manuel currently spends several hours a week at the North Shore Private Hospital providing support to Cancer patients and or their family members by talking to them about their current challenges, sharing his experiences and providing companionship.

Helen never gave up hope to finding ways to live a long and a healthy lifestyle. This is a great opportunity to raise awareness and to help find a cure.


Julian Huxley

Julian is a former Wallaby and brain cancer survivor.

6 months after representing Australia in the Rugby World Cup 2007, Julian suffered a seizure during a game and was subsequently diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Julian Huxley
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In 2008 Julian was operated on by TBCG co-founder Dr Ray Cook, and underwent chemotherapy with A/Prof Helen Wheeler. Ever since, Julian has been a TBCG Ambassador and a passionate supporter of Brain Cancer fundraising.

At present Julian combines another of his passions, golf, with TBCG and hosts the annual TBCG Big Brain Bash Golf Day, now into its fourth year and having raised in excess of $100 000 already. Julian continues his involvement in Rugby via coaching.

Sindy Viney

Sindy Viney

My name is Sindy Viney and I tragically lost my beautiful daughter Samantha to Brain Cancer in November 2013.

Sam was 18, had just completed her HSC and was making plans for a bright fun adventurous future. A set of catastrophic events lead to Sam having a brain scan, a violent seizure, being placed on life support and helicoptered to Sydney’s North Shore Hospital for emergency brain surgery.

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That traumatic day began our lifetime association with The Brain Cancer Group, formerly Sydney Neuro Oncology Group (SNOG).

A diagnosis of brain cancer is a devastating event for the patient, their family and their friends. It completely overwhelms your thoughts and emotions and as a mother all you want to do is to protect your beautiful child.

The Brain Cancer Group was an invaluable resource for our family during Sam’s treatment, allowing us to focus on and protect Sam. We were never distracted by booking doctor’s appointments or arranging treatment. TBCG provided all care coordination and scheduled treatments, whilst always considering the distance we travelled for treatment and ensuring that our precious time was never wasted. For this service and support we will be forever grateful.

Sam bravely fought brain cancer for 20 months and before her death we discussed as a family the importance of The Brain Cancer Group. As a health professional and mother, we experienced the highest professional care and support from TBCG. Their dedication to brain cancer research and continued drive towards developing effective treatment options and ultimately a cure for brain cancer is inspirational.

Assisting TBCG in raising funds for research, care coordination and increasing awareness of Brain Cancer was a final promise I made to my daughter. In memory of my beautiful Sam, I am honoured to be an ambassador for The Brain Cancer Group.

Sindy Viney

Ceri Smith

In the early hours of Boxing Day 2002 Ceri received a call from her Mum to say Dad was seriously ill and an ambulance was on its way. What followed was a diagnosis of a Brain Tumour and emergency surgery the following day.

5 surgeries and a year-long battle took its toll and her Dad sadly lost his life to this cruel disease in January 2004.

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Ceri spent her childhood years in Germany, an RAF kid, playing hide and seek amongst Tornado GR3’s! The family then moved back to the UK with Ceri spending her teenage years in Wales and then University in Bristol. It was whilst studying her Law degree that her Dad fell ill. Since losing her Dad Ceri has enjoyed travelling the world stepping foot on every continent except Antarctica. Settling in Sydney almost 8 years ago Ceri has completed several challenges including a 200km bike ride and the Noosa Triathlon (whilst terrified of ocean swimming!) to raise awareness and funds for Brain Cancer research.

Ceri now lives on the Northern Beaches with her husband Neil, and pet’s Pepper the rabbit and Jester the Labrador.

Ceri is incredibly honoured and proud to become an Ambassador for TBCG who along with her husband are committed to raising awareness and funding so that one day there will be a cure for brain cancer.

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