Holly shares this story to raise awareness for Evie’s campaign for life-altering immunotherapy treatment
In 2016, one of my closest friends Evie was diagnosed with a brain tumour. The phrase ‘out of the blue’ doesn’t even come close to how it felt at the time- one minute we were walking to college together and the next she was in hospital. After operating on the tumour, the surgery resulted in a stroke, meaning she lost the feeling in her left side, leaving her unable to walk or use her left hand properly. Evie’s life changed drastically, spending the initial few months in hospital- a place you least envisage yourself hanging out with one of your best friends in the height of your teenage years.
Hearing the word ‘cancer’ is everyone’s nightmare and the fact it had happened to my 17-year-old friend was the most difficult thing to comprehend. I can never compare the difficulty I or her family and other friends experienced to the difficulty faced by Evie herself, however seeing someone you’re extremely close to go through such a hard time is one of the most devastating experiences. Initially, the shock of the situation led me to cope on adrenaline, the newness of this routine being handled simply because I had no other option. Yet, as it all settled down and sunk in I simply couldn’t cope with it. I felt a lot of guilt- why Evie and not me? Why had this happened to Evie and how were we all supposed to deal with it?
One of the hardest aspects of this was living your normal life as an 18-year-old knowing that this is what Evie should be experiencing too. I felt endless amounts of guilt at the fact I could go on with my life while Evie was missing out on so many things a young woman should be experiencing. From my experience, the best thing to do in these situations is to keep in touch and make sure they know that you’re always there for them, whether you can see them in person or not. I had to realise that life doesn’t stop when something like this happens; it simply changes the course of your life. In a strange way, you have to make the most of these awful times; difficulty does bring strength and reminds you to be kind and helpful to those around you.
I learnt that honesty is the best policy and you definitely can’t stop living your life in fear of upsetting somebody else- as much as I knew Evie may feel left out, I also knew she wanted us all to be happy and never wanted us to feel bad about doing things without her. To put it bluntly, the best way to get through a situation like this is to let go of how you imagined life to be and focus on how things actually are.
Evie is by far the biggest inspiration in my life. Seeing someone rise from such fear and anxiety to conquer and battle a situation so daunting and painful is absolutely incredible and her determination amazes me every day. From her physically progression in terms of learning to walk again to her astounding positive mental attitude, I’ve never known anyone be as brave and determined as her. There are the physical challenges- the sickness from chemotherapy, the constant pain in her body, the tiredness- as well as the mental struggles of having your life completely turned upside down. However, Evie genuinely faces every challenge with a smile on her face and more concern for those around her than for herself.
The past few years have really made me realise just how resilient humans can be. Looking in hindsight at how Evie has coped with this illness as well as how I’ve dealt with seeing her struggle, it’s incredible how much you can cope with and overcome. It has also made me understand that trivial issues of life are absolutely nothing in comparison to the wellness of a loved one. You can complain about the smallest things but as long as you have those around you healthy and well, you are the most fortunate person in the world.
Here is how you can support Evie: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/displayCharityCampaignPage.action?charityCampaignUrl=eviesmission