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Pop princess Kylie Minogue’s chart
topper "Can't get you out of my head"
was playing through Nicola Catalano’s
earphones as an MRI machine scanned
her head for a possible tumour.
The irony of that moment struck her eight
years later after four operations, one
costing her eyesight, failed to remove all
of the 4cm-wide tumour on her pituitary
The 43-year-old Clearview parishioner
has borrowed Minogue’s song title for her
recently released debut book, which maps
her 13-year-long battle against her own
body to survive.
"I was going to call it my journey, or
something similar, but I just couldn't get
passed the irony of that day in the MRI
because the tumour is still here," she said
Her self-published book, Can’t Get You
Out of My Head, was launched at the
Good Shepherd Church community centre
in Clearview on July 26. The first 100
copies sold out and more books were
reprinted. Nicola will address the Blind
Welfare Association later this month and
has been asked by Catholic schools to
share her story with students and staff.
Can’t Get You Out of My Head took Nicola
three years to write through a special
audio program installed on her computer
by the Royal Society for the Blind.
“It’s about suffering from an illness but
also about being able to continue on with
life and learning so much through that
experience,” she says.
“And learning that: don’t take your life for
granted; live your life the best you can;
take most of the opportunities you can,
because you never know when things
can change; and most of all, realise basic
things can be so important.”
The benign tumour was first diagnosed
in late 2002 after Nicola visited her GP
complaining of symptoms which included
sore eyes and weight gain.
She was 30 years old and teaching
English, Drama and History at Mary
MacKillop College, in Kensington.
She underwent 10-hour surgery in early
2003. “They got half out,” says Nicola.
“The other half was near the optic nerve.”
Nicola returned to work at the College in
2004 when her neurosurgeon felt a second
operation was needed to remove more of
the remaining tumour. A third operation
took place in the same year. It took
doctors 12 hours to complete and Nicola
many months to recover.
Not all the tumour was removed. However
Nicola was feeling healthier and travelled
overseas in 2005/06 and in 2008 began
work at Nazareth Catholic College. Driving
home from Nazareth in 2009, Nicola’s
eyesight failed her and instinctively she
knew the tumour had grown.
Her fourth operation left her in hospital
for one year and six months more in
rehabilitation. Her optic nerve had been
severed in an attempt to remove the
entire tumour. She was blind at 37. She
suffered complications that brought her
close to death. She was unable to return
to work. She is currently continuing with
chemotherapy treatment to keep the
Despite her disability, Nicola is fully
participating in the life she has. When
she’s not listening to audio books, or at
the gym, she’s out and about with her
friends and family attending concerts, the
movies and sharing a good latte across
Adelaide’s café strips.
Nicola was educated at Our Lady of the
Sacred Heart College and is a parishioner
at Clearview’s Good Shepherd Church.
She knits blankets and toys for the
homeless in her spare time.
“My faith has given me strength to
continue,” she says.
Nicola Catalano’s book Can’t Get You
Out of My Head can be purchased
online at http://www.vividpublishing.
Brain tumour, blindness and a book
By Rebecca DiGirolamo
The words to the hymn, We Are Called,
rang out joyfully on the Feast of the
Assumption at St Kevin’s Parish,
Eastwood in Sydney, as Brother James
Hodge FMS and Brother Jack O’Sullivan
FMS, professed their first vows as Marist
Brother James was educated by the
Brothers at the former Marist College
Rosalie in Brisbane.
“Through my experiences of working
alongside the Brothers in Brisbane
and Cambodia, I found myself being
continually drawn to them. Their strong
sense of fraternity and their witness of
simply being brothers to others, especially
to marginalised youth, were vocational
qualities that resonated in me,” he said.
Brother Jack was educated at Notre Dame
College in Shepparton, Victoria, before
joining REMAR, the national Marist Youth
Ministry Team and later working in Youth
Ministry for the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
“My experience of World Youth Days left
me with a hunger and a desire for wanting
a closer relationship with God. The witness
of the Brothers and the Marist formation
program in the novitiate has helped me to
better discern where God is leading me
into the future as a Brother.”
Marist Provincial, Brother Jeffrey Crowe
FMS, received the vows and welcomed
the new Brothers into the Province.
Catholic schools across South Australia
are now able to provide Reception
students with the option of two start dates
following a recent enrolment policy revision
being quickly endorsed by parents and
Within weeks of the enrolment policy
announcement on July 23, St Francis de
Sales College, Mt Barker, enrolled 10 new
Reception students for this year’s term
Melissa Ekberg’s daughter Abbey was
one of those students. Mrs Ekberg had
been advocating for a second intake as
Abbey’s May 20 birthdate excluded her
from the May 1 cut off for the sole annual
intake under the old Catholic Education SA
“She was really ready for school,” said Mrs
Ekberg. “Most of her childcare network
had started school this year in term one,
which was really hard for her,” she said.
“Now she will be engaged and learning
with children her own age.”
Principal Pam Ronan said the policy
change gave school leaders the flexibility
to respond to community needs by
providing either one or two intakes each
year. She said having the two options
would reverse falling enrolments for some
schools under the former one-intake-only
enrolment policy introduced by CESA
earlier this year.
“For schools in high growth areas, two
annual intakes will help meet demand and
accommodate the diverse needs of school
communities in rural and metropolitan
areas,” said Ms Ronan.
CESA director Helen O’Brien said the
two-intake policy followed extensive
community consultation and a recent
review. She said under the new policy
school leaders could offer one or two
intakes each year.
She said the first intake (term one)
included children turning five on or before
April 30 and the second intake (term three)
included children aged five on or before
Ms O’Brien said a small number of schools
had sought an exemption from the one-
“Catholic schools will continue to work
with families to offer the best learning
opportunities possible for children within a
faith-based community,” she said.
Schools and parents embrace two intakes
KEEN TO LEARN: (L-R) Five-year-old St Francis de Sales College student Abbey
Ekberg with mum Melissa. Abbey was able to start Reception in July under a
revised enrolment policy, otherwise she would have had to wait till Term One next
INSPIRATIONAL: Clearview parishioner and author Nicola Catalano with her
recently released book, which maps her 13-year battle against a persistent brain
tumour, which has claimed her eyesight, and the lessons of love and faith she has
learned along the way.
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