Any mother faced with losing her child is facing her worst nightmare. And for Freshwater mum Kelly Evans, her nightmare came true when her four-year-old daughter Neve Brady died of leukaemia in 2015. Here she shares her story, in her own words, as she teams up with other families for Fight On The Beaches, a charity set up to help find a cure for cancer.
It was just before Xmas 2012. There was a buzzing vibe amongst the four of us as we busily packed for our family camping holiday. To this day, I recall all too vividly that Neve was tired, but among other fleeting symptoms these were easily accounted for. Two days after being treated for tonsillitis I went to retrieve my beautiful baby girl from her camping cot and I noticed she was covered in unexplained bruises. I couldn’t breathe. Nor can I begin to explain this moment or what was to follow. But what I do know is, the feelings I had at that moment would be mimicked over the next two years as she underwent the most gruelling treatment for leukaemia.
New Year’s Eve 2012, Neve and I were flown to what would become our new home: Sydney Randwick Children’s Hospital. My husband, Matt and I unknowingly went into day-to-day mode, guided and bonded by our love for our fragile daughter, and grasping to hope. Especially for Neve’s best friend, our son and Neve’s big brother, Eli, who was eight at the time, and watched as Neve underwent a lengthy cycle of chemotherapy combined with tests and additional harsh treatments for the cruel side effects. Neve was considered in remission by September 2013 and although not at all at ease, we truly thought that we had all lived through the worst.
It was March 2014 and I was nine months pregnant. We were renovating and ready to make new happier memories when Neve’s cancer returned. We moved back into hospital isolation for her to undergo the most gruelling and intense months of chemo, fasting, tests and full body radiation possible. Neve was just so sick; expressionless and bed bound for weeks. Complete horror was all we were capable of feeling, along with Eli, who was matched to be his sister’s last treatment life-line.
Neve received Eli’s bone marrow on May 22, 2014. I remember feeling that surely we must now have finally made it. Eli was elated being over the painful marrow extraction process, baby Beau had safely arrived, and we could all faintly see a light. Neve came home in July. She was still understandably weak and on numerous medications to sustain her, but she was also seemingly improving. She had her feeding tube and central line removed in September and we could finally watch her participate in life as normal four-year-old. However, it was while she was swimming on October 11 that the real nightmare began. The bruises were back. Hope was lost. Leukaemia had won.
Neve passed away 10 days later, spending a mere 2 days in Bear Cottage. She was so strong and never complained even at the end. And for us now, we bear the scars and carry the unbearable pain of these disgusting memories and missing Neve indescribably every moment of every day.
When Eli asked me on the day of Neve’s funeral why his bone marrow didn’t work, the truth was simple: “Eli, your bone marrow was the best treatment Neve could have possibly received and it did work. It’s just that cancer is too often too strong.” A cure is now our hope. Nothing less.
Help fight cancer by supporting Fight on the Beaches at the ball on Friday 27 July. Ticket sales are open now and includes 3 course meal, champagne on arrival and drinks for the evening, fantastic live entertainment, prizes, auctions and raffles, as well as incredibly moving personal stories. The group are still after prize donations, so if people would like to make a contribution of a prize please get in touch.