Dialog Box


Ependymoma Awareness Day

Robert Connor Dawes

To mark Ependymoma Awareness Day 2014, the CERN Foundation (Collaborative Ependymoma Research Network) will stage a mass butterfly release.

We’ve been taking a closer look at this brain tumour and the devastating effect it can have.


Ependymomas are rare brain tumours that can grow in the brain or spinal cord. They are a form of glioma and are graded from one to three by the World Health Organisation Tumour Grading system. 

They can occur in adults and in children, but tend to affect the spine in adults and the brain in children. 

Ependymomas are more common in children than in adults and are in fact the third most common brain tumour in children. Read more about childhood brain tumours here.



Symptoms will vary depending on the location of the tumour, which can occur and spread throughout the central nervous system. 

In the brain, tumours can cause headaches, nausea or sickness, visual problems and weakness or numbness. Tumours in the spine can cause weak arms or legs, numbness or tingling, back pain or problems with bowel or bladder function.



As with most brain tumours, we don’t know what causes ependymoma. This is why we need to invest in research. For the vast majority of people with a brain tumour, no outside cause can be clearly identified.



Treatment usually involves surgery and then depending on where the tumour is and how much of it has been removed, radiotherapy usually follows.



Robert Connor Dawes and the RCD Fund


RCD Fund logoAeternum Fortis = Eternal Strength. These two words sum up Connor’s story. 

Robert Connor Dawes, or Connor to his family and friends, was diagnosed with anaplastic ependymoma in 2011. He was 17 and had his whole, bright future ahead of him. 

He underwent surgery which caused loss of movement to his right side, impaired vision and severe short-term memory loss. But he was determined to fight and focused on his physical and mental rehabilitation. Through all the treatment that followed Connor never stopped smiling and remained positive. 

His school friends sold t-shirts and wristbands with his name and the phrase “Aeternum Fortis” printed on them, a testament to his spirit in the face of adversity.

Connor died at home in April 2013 with his family by his side.

The RCD Fund was created in his name in June 2013,  to continue Connor’s legacy in the areas of Research, Care and Development.

Find out more about Connor’s story on their website.


Cure Brain Cancer Foundation is funding innovative research projects in brain cancer. We need to better understand how brain tumours function so that we can identify and develop new treatments. 

More than 40% of the research projects we fund have implications for childhood tumours and some are looking specifically at paediatric brain tumours, such as Nick Gottardo’s work on paediatric oncology. 

Brain cancer kills more children in Australia than any other cancer or disease. It kills more people under 40 than any other cancer. Our mission is to increase five-year survival to 50% within 10 years. Together, we will succeed.

You can help fund research into brain cancer