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Eve’s story: our hospice is a big part of the family

Eve and her dad

Eve Anderson was a kind and bubbly girl known for her determination, as dad, Ian, explained: “She was vibrant, outgoing and had a real fighting spirit. If someone could do something Eve couldn’t, she’d make it her mission to do it. She’d often come home from school and tell me about the challenge she’d overcome that day.”

This fighting spirit would come to the fore in February 2011 when Eve collapsed in the driveway of her home due to a catastrophic cerebral bleed.

The eight-year-old was admitted to hospital on Valentine’s Day and underwent an 18-hour operation.

A day later, on Tuesday, Eve was in intensive care when surgeons gave her just days to live. Heart-breaking discussions were made as to whether Eve’s life support machine should be switched off on the Thursday.

But the battling eight-year-old defied the odds and woke from her coma three weeks later.

Eve made progress with daily speech and language, and physiotherapy sessions. But worse news was to come when it was discovered that the cerebral bleed was the result of an underlying vascular tumour. This diagnosis wasn’t made in July 2011 when the bleed in Eve’s ventricles finally cleared.

Sadly, Eve suffered a stroke from biopsy surgery and the degenerative damage from intensive daily radiotherapy left her unable to walk or talk.

Eve’s condition was effectively “locked in syndrome” and she used ‘laser eye gaze’ technology to communicate with blinks.

Despite her severe disabilities, Eve’s vibrant sense of humour remained, as dad, Ian, explained: “There was always a glint in Eve’s eye and a big beaming smile on her face.”

Close up of Eve smiling

Ian – who was to become Eve’s full-time carer – was desperate for his daughter to come home but her complex medical needs meant the home needed extensive adaptations. While these were underway, a social worker suggested St Oswald’s Hospice might be able to help.

Eve initially came to the Hospice three times a week to bathe in the accessible bathroom in the Children and Young Adults Service. Once the adaptations at Ian’s home were finished, Eve then started coming to the Hospice for regular short breaks, three days a month.

These short breaks gave Ian a break, while his daughter was cared for in a safe and secure environment. Eve had hydrotherapy and participated in various activities – including a memorable visit to the beach where she rode in a specially adapted horse and carriage.

Ian said: “St Oswald’s Hospice became a big part of the family. Coming into the children’s unit, it was calm and serene. It wasn’t sad or depressing. Everyone was so friendly and wanted to know how you were doing. They are 100% there for the kids and Eve loved her visits.”

Eve had always loved music and after she became ill, her dad would regularly take her to see live music where she “lit up” listening to the musicians play. Such trips, however, ended abruptly when COVID hit and live venues were forced to close.

During this time, Ian reconnected with a friend from Australia, Rob, who had started streaming a music and chat show from his studio, which quickly became a mainstay in the Anderson household – with Eve becoming the show’s unofficial mascot.

Ian added: “We would stream the shows on our television and Rob would always give a shout-out to Eve. She loved it!”

Ian had always known the high probability that Eve’s brain tumour would one day start growing again and, two years ago, a routine MRI scan revealed his worst fear. Despite the devastating news, Ian continued to make the most of every day with his daughter, who continued to inspire him.

He said: “There were days I was really down but I would go and see Eve. She would sense I was there and flash her sparkling white teeth at me. She motivated me and kept me going.

Even if I won the world’s super lottery, it would never be enough to say thank you and to repay St Oswald’s Hospice for giving my daughter her dignity and quality of life back.

Ian, Eve's dad

Sadly, Eve’s condition began deteriorating. The 20-year-old continued to visit St Oswald’s Hospice for short breaks, where she was closely monitored by the team who had known and cared for Eve for the last 12 years.

Eve was on one of her short breaks when the care team became concerned about her and called Ian, who rushed to be with his daughter.

After a few days, Eve sadly died at the Hospice on 29th August, 2023.

Ian bravely added: “Eve passed away in my arms after blinking three times – her way of saying ‘I love you’.”

“There was something about Eve that left a mark on everyone. No matter how cruel life can be, she was still the most beautiful girl. I feel so proud to have been Eve’s dad.”

As part of #ChildrensHospiceWeek 2024, we’re shining a light on the lifeline care hospices like St Oswald’s give to struggling families every single day. But new research we’ve published shows that if the next UK Government fails to maintain a crucial £25m fund, children’s hospices will be forced to cut lifeline services like those Eve and Ian depended on. In this general election, we have one chance to get it right for families. Sign the letter to the next Prime Minister, because Short Lives Can’t Wait.

Family stories