How Evie saved Daddy’s life

and her When life got scary, 44-year-old Clare Revill mes­sage hubby, from the Wir­ral, heard a very spe­cial

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When the con­sul­tant gave us the news, I felt the whole room spin

Me and my part­ner Phil, 46, al­ways knew our lit­tle girl Evie was spe­cial.

Phil and I had been to­gether since 1992 and we’d al­ways imag­ined hav­ing chil­dren one day.

But, as time had passed, noth­ing had hap­pened – and we be­gan to think per­haps we weren’t meant to be par­ents.

But then, in 2009, the most amaz­ing thing hap­pened.

I fell preg­nant!

When Evie ar­rived in Septem­ber 2009 weigh­ing a per­fect 8lb, we fell in love.

But she was floppy and blue, and wasn’t feed­ing prop­erly. And, two days later, tests re­vealed some­thing dev­as­tat­ing.

‘She has Down’s syn­drome,’ a doc­tor said.

Phil and I were in pieces. But she was still our Evie. The pre­cious lit­tle girl we feared we’d never have. ‘We’ll cope,’ Phil said. Evie grew into a lovely, mis­chievous lit­tle girl. Didn’t let any­thing stand in her way. Yes, she was de­layed in learn­ing to crawl and walk, but she still got there.

Af­ter she started school, Phil re­turned part-time to his job as a web de­signer, and life seemed to be go­ing well.

Then, in July 2016, our bub­ble sud­denly burst.

As I got Evie ready for school one morn­ing, Phil told me he had a doc­tor’s ap­point­ment.

He hadn’t men­tioned feel­ing poorly, so I as­sumed it was just a checkup.

Only, when he came home, he looked con­cerned. ‘How did it go?’ I asked. ‘I’ve been re­ferred for tests,’ Phil gulped.

He ex­plained he’d been play­ing with Evie the night be­fore and she’d ac­ci­den­tally el­bowed him in the left of his chest.

‘It felt re­ally sore af­ter and I found a small, pea-sized lump,’ he said.

It didn’t sound like any­thing to worry about.

‘It’s prob­a­bly just a cyst,’ I re­as­sured him.

He agreed and we tried to put it to the back of our minds. The fol­low­ing week, Phil went to the Breast Unit at Clat­ter­bridge Hos­pi­tal. Mean­while, I took Evie out for the day to paint pot­tery at a lo­cal pot­ting shed. When we came home, I’d still not heard from Phil. Maybe he’s stuck in traf­fic,

I thought.

But when he walked through the door, his face was drained of colour.

‘I think I’ve got breast can­cer,’ he said, break­ing down in sobs.

I rushed to him, held him in my arms.

Phil told me the doc­tor had found a mass on his left breast.

We had to wait for the biopsy re­sults to con­firm it.

‘Let’s just be pos­i­tive,’ I said, still try­ing to con­vince my­self it was just a cyst.

You don’t hear of blokes get­ting breast can­cer, do you? What were the chances?

The next week passed slowly, and each hour was tor­ture. I could tell Phil had the weight of the world on his shoul­ders, too – he was wor­ried sick.

Then, one day,

I was up­stairs while

Phil was in the kitchen with Evie.

He was eat­ing his break­fast while she played on her ipad.

And, com­pletely out of nowhere, ap­par­ently she paused and looked up.

‘Be brave, Daddy,’ Evie whis­pered.

‘Thank you, sweetie,’ Phil choked, stunned.

We’d not told Evie about Phil’s tests, but it was like she’d sensed some­thing.

So in­tu­itive, noth­ing got past her.

She was such a pos­i­tive lit­tle girl with a real en­ergy for life.

That night, when Phil told me about the con­ver­sa­tion, I was choked up.

‘We’ve got to be more like Evie,’ Phil said.

I thought about all the chal­lenges Evie faced in her life and how she ap­proached ev­ery­thing with a care­free at­ti­tude and a big smile.

She just em­braced life for what it was.

She lived in the mo­ment, didn’t worry about to­mor­row.

In­spired by her zest for life, Phil de­cided to make a T-shirt to re­mind him­self ev­ery day.

Writ­ten on it were Evie’s words: Be brave.

The fol­low­ing week, I went to Phil’s ap­point­ment with him and he wore his T-shirt.

I reached out my hand for sup­port.

But when the con­sul­tant gave us the news, I felt the whole room spin­ning.

‘It is breast can­cer,’ the con­sul­tant con­firmed. I strug­gled to take it in.

I’d heard of women hav­ing breast can­cer, but not men.

We were told Phil would

With Evie’s words etched in his mind, I knew he’d be fine

need to have a mas­tec­tomy.

Back at home, we tried to get our heads around it.

‘Let’s not tell Evie,’ Phil said. By now she was 7, but she was a lit­tle more de­layed than most chil­dren her age.

‘I don’t want to up­set her,’ Phil said.

Be­sides, Evie was too young to un­der­stand what can­cer was.

Phil’s mas­tec­tomy was sched­uled for the end of Au­gust, so we had a few weeks to wait.

Phil and I tried not to think about it, but it was al­ways at the back of our minds.

Evie was a great dis­trac­tion for us both, though.

‘Daddy, play with me,’ she’d say, get­ting out all her toys.

Her lit­tle smile seemed to melt our trou­bles away.

Mean­while, Phil de­cided to get more T-shirts made.

‘I’m go­ing to sell them and raise money for char­ity,’ Phil said.

And that’s what he did. He set up a web page and sold Evie’s T-shirts, with the pro­ceeds go­ing to Macmil­lan, the breast can­cer cen­tre and Mag­gie’s Cen­tres.

It gave Phil a fo­cus, some­thing to dis­tract him from his can­cer.

Fi­nally, at the end of Au­gust, he had his left breast tis­sue re­moved along with the sur­round­ing lymph nodes.

‘Be brave,’ I re­minded him, be­fore he went in for the op.

With Evie’s words etched in his mind, I knew he’d be fine.

When he came round later that day, I clutched his hand. ‘All done,’ I cried, emo­tional. The op was a suc­cess, but we had to wait two weeks to find out if the can­cer had spread. Of course, we were anx­ious. But Evie’s pos­i­tive spirit was enough to keep us go­ing.

When­ever one of us had a wob­ble, she’d cheer us up in an in­stant with her in­fec­tious gig­gle.

At Phil’s checkup in Septem­ber 2016, I was a bag of nerves.

But when I saw one of Phil’s nurses, she had a smile on her face.

‘It’s good news,’ a con­sul­tant fi­nally con­firmed.

Phil’s can­cer had com­pletely gone, and he didn’t need any fur­ther treat­ment.

‘Thank you so much,’ he said to the doc­tors, over­whelmed.

Back at home, he scooped up Evie and we had a big fam­ily hug.

‘You’re Daddy’s brave lit­tle girl,’ Phil said, tears in his eyes.

Now he just needs reg­u­lar checks to make sure the can­cer hasn’t re­turned.

And he’s on the pre­ven­ta­tive breast-can­cer drug ta­mox­ifen, which he needs to take for five years.

But the fu­ture looks good. Adopt­ing Evie’s pos­i­tive at­ti­tude saw us through the tough­est of times.

And Phil con­tin­ues to spread her mes­sage by sell­ing T-shirts. In a lot of ways Evie saved his life.

If she hadn’t ac­ci­den­tally knocked him in the chest when they were play­ing, he may not have dis­cov­ered the lump.

She’s 8 now and con­tin­ues to amaze us with her charisma, en­ergy and sheer love of life.

Evie re­minds us ev­ery day that life is for liv­ing.

So go out there and grab it with both hands.

Evie’s gig­gle kept us both go­ing!

Yes, men do get breast can­cer, too...

Phil’s lit­tle life­saver

Says it all... and raises money for char­ity

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