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
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,
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