Read a big sister’s heartbreaking account of the loss siblings feel when cancer strikes

Eleven-year-old Eve Lyons loved to draw and was a talented young artist. Dozens of hand-drawn sketches of her favorite things – rainbows, unicorns and butterflies – hung on the walls of her bedroom in Corby, Northants.

On a particular evening in June 2017, Eve drew a sunshine with a smiley face and the words “Keep Smiling” underneath it. As her mother, Suzanne, put her to bed, Eve handed her the picture and said, “Mom, no matter what, remember to always smile.”

It was a moment that changed everything. “That’s when we realized Eve knew she wasn’t going to make it,” says her older sister Meg, 28.

“Up to this point she had been so positive for over two years and always believed that she would survive.

“But a few weeks before the end, she must have realized her body was giving up and we knew it too. I remember seeing her lying on the couch, so weak, weightless and with tangerine-sized lumps all over her body, and I thought, ‘If you want to go now, baby, go’.”

Mourning: Beth and Meg (right) with Eve. Five years later, Meg is sharing Eve's story to support the Mail's campaign in partnership with Cancer Research UK for more investment in childhood and adolescent cancer

Mourning: Beth and Meg (right) with Eve. Five years later, Meg is sharing Eve's story to support the Mail's campaign in partnership with Cancer Research UK for more investment in childhood and adolescent cancer

Mourning: Beth and Meg (right) with Eve. Five years later, Meg is sharing Eve’s story to support the Mail’s campaign in partnership with Cancer Research UK for more investment in childhood and adolescent cancer

Heartbreakingly, Eve left. A week after drawing that smiley face sunshine, this “amazing soul” died in that bedroom, in the arms of her devoted family. For parents Suzanne and Tom and older sisters Meg and Beth, the loss has left a huge, gaping hole in their lives.

Today, five years later, Meg is sharing Eve’s story to support the Mail’s campaign in partnership with Cancer Research UK for more investment in childhood and adolescent cancer.

Meg, an actress, says Eve’s arrival at the family was a “magical” time and that she and Beth, 26, a singer, were in love with her little sister.

“I was 12 when Eve was born, so it was wonderful to see her grow up appreciating moments like her first steps and first words in a way that I don’t with Beth, who is only two years younger than me did,” she says.

“Eve was the most amazing soul – friendly, funny, she made us laugh every day. She was everyone’s friend and was always playing or dancing. She was brilliant at school – although she was occasionally accused of talking too much – but she was confident and so mature in her attitude. We often joked that she was like a little old lady in a child’s body. We loved her so much.’

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The campaign advocates for more investment in research into childhood cancer

But on Sports Day 2015, the world of the family collapsed. Eve, then an apparently healthy and fit nine-year-old, fell and injured her hip. “Mom and Dad took her to the ER because she was in a lot of pain and when they checked her they found a tumor on her hip,” says Meg. “I was away to study and my parents informed me that she had been taken to the hospital.

“But later when Dad called me to say, ‘I’m really sorry, I have something to tell you,’ I blurted out, ‘She has cancer, doesn’t she?’ Somehow I just knew.

“It felt like my heart broke into a thousand pieces. All I could think was, ‘I’m not going to see my little sister grow up.’ ‘

Eve has been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone or soft tissue cancer that most commonly affects teenagers and young adults. The survival rate is about 60 percent.

After the devastating phone call, Meg’s father picked her up from drama school in Guildford. The next morning, the whole family visited Eve at the hospital.

“We hadn’t told her what was going on because we didn’t want her to be scared and we weren’t sure how to go about it, so in the end a doctor knelt by her bed and said, ‘Eva, you got some horrible bugs in them and it’s called cancer,’ says Meg.

“Your response was something that will stay with me forever. She sighed a little and said, “Who? Cancer? Me? Ok, let’s do that.’

“She didn’t cry, she was so mature and matter-of-fact, and even the doctor said he had never seen anything like it in a child.” Moments later, Eve was shown through the wards and introduced to the medical staff who would become so familiar to her.

All proceeds from the Daily Mail's Fight Childhood Cancer campaign will support Cancer Research's work on childhood cancer to help more under-25s survive with a good quality of life

All proceeds from the Daily Mail's Fight Childhood Cancer campaign will support Cancer Research's work on childhood cancer to help more under-25s survive with a good quality of life

All funds raised will support the charity’s work on childhood cancer to help more under-25s survive with a good quality of life

“I remember even then she was joking and being goofy, probably trying to make us feel better and believe that everything was going to be okay,” says Meg.

“In the coming months, I would see her doing that when other kids first came into the oncology ward scared and nervous. She would smile and open her arms to them.”

Thanks to research, more children and teenagers are surviving their cancer than ever before, says Dr. Laura Danielson, Head of Research for Children and Adolescents at Cancer Research UK.

“However, for some cancers such as Ewing’s sarcoma, survival remains short, especially when the disease has already spread.

“Current treatments include a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and/or surgery, but these are not always effective. Better and less toxic treatments are urgently needed to make a difference for these young patients.”

The charity is funding a trial of a more targeted drug in combination with chemotherapy in newly diagnosed patients whose cancer has already spread.

Meg says Eve must have known how sick she was. But she displayed a maturity that belied her young years and often tried to protect her loved ones. “She named her tumor ‘Monty’ because she didn’t want to upset us, especially Mom and Dad,” says Meg.

“But sometimes she said the treatment was like acid or hot lava going through her body and it was so painful that sometimes she couldn’t get up to go to the bathroom.”

Despite the brutality of the cancer and the treatment Eve underwent, the three sisters were able to share special memories.

Meg recalls: ‘Once when she was having a hard time eating because she was nauseous from chemo, we took her to dinner and she ate the whole plate. We couldn’t stop laughing.

“Another special memory was going backstage on the musical Kinky Boots. She had been so ill beforehand that we thought we might have to cancel, but she managed to pull through and they even got her on stage where she met some of the cast.

However, after two years of treatment, Eve began to refuse. Meg was in Guildford when she got the call she was dreading.

She recalled, “It was 6 a.m. on June 24, 2017 and it was Beth who said, ‘I’m sorry but Eve is really sick and you need to come home.’ I started to get ready, but half an hour later she called again and said, ‘Eve is dying and I don’t know if you’ll be back in time.’

Luckily, Meg managed to get to her sister’s side.

“She stayed alive for me,” says Meg. “I went into the house and our priests were there and they had given her a blessing. My family was by her side and you could tell her body was shutting down.

“Mum and Dad asked if I would like to be alone with her for a few moments and they left the room. I held Eve’s hand and told her how proud I was. The last thing I said to her was, ‘I’m going to make sure I live this life for both of us now.’

“Mum, Dad and Beth, three grandparents and Mom’s sister and husband and my two cousins ​​who are like sisters to us came back into the room.

‘Eve died at 11.33am. I will never forget the screams and screams of my family that day. Mum and Dad were broken.’

On the day of her funeral, 700 people filled the local church. “Everyone in Corby knew Eve and so many people wanted to say goodbye,” says Meg. “As we drove slowly through the village, people lined the streets.

“But the moment that broke me was when we got to a street corner and Eve’s classmates were standing on the sidewalk. As the car passed, they all released a colored balloon.”

Meg and Beth are now working to help siblings with cancer.

“Beth and I were adults when Eve died so we were old enough to understand what was going on and to grieve properly, but there is a real lack of support for younger people who are losing a brother or sister , and we want to change that,” says Meg.

“My mother is friends with mothers who have lost children and they tell her how their other children are suffering. Some have mental health problems or just get lost in school. You’re not just losing a sibling, you’re losing the parents you had who always want their kid back now, and you’re losing the life you had before.”

The sisters are trying to start a charity, Keep Smiling For Eve, to fund support for these children and have already raised £25,000.

During Eve’s lifetime, the sisters were working on Stand Up 2 Cancer, creating a heartbreaking short film that was shown on Channel 4. Celebrities like Ed Sheeran were moved to tears.

“We were told that the film raised so much money for cancer research, so Eve’s legacy will be extraordinary,” says Meg.

“She changed me as a person. I find everyday life very hard. But I also keep my promise to Eve to live for the day. Because you never know what will happen tomorrow.”

Visit www.cancerresearchuk.org/dailymailappeal for more details

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

https://www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com/health-news/read-a-big-sisters-heartbreaking-account-of-the-loss-siblings-feel-when-cancer-strikes/ Read a big sister’s heartbreaking account of the loss siblings feel when cancer strikes

Brian Ashcraft

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