Published: 00:01, 18 April 2017
A five-year-old girl described as a beautiful force of nature has died almost a year after she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.
Eva Giles, of Mickleburgh Hill in Herne Bay, was given nine months to live when she was diagnosed with the rare type of cancer in April last year.
Her heartbroken parents, Emma and Dean, raised more than £100,000 to treat the tumour but she died at home.
Emma, 39, told our sister paper the Herne Bay Gazette her loss had left an “Eva-sized hole” in the family.
“We have known for a year that this might happen, but nothing can prepare you for the end and moving forward without a child,” she said.
“She didn’t suffer until the last week and she was a force of nature – she never once complained about anything.”
Eva suffered from Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) which forms in a part of the brainstem known as the pons, controlling vital functions including walking and talking.
It affects between 20 to 30 children in the UK every year and there is no effective treatment.
But Eva, who attended Herne Bay Infants and had a brother Ewan, eight, and sister Rosie, two, fought valiantly against the disease, undergoing rounds of radiotherapy and immunotherapy aimed at prolonging her life.
“For all the bad stuff that happened to her, she never dwelled on it and she was very positive,” Dean, 38, said.
“All she focused on was what ice cream she wanted to have after her treatment and she took it all better than any adult would.
“She touched the hearts of everyone and how people pulled together to help her has just been incredible.”
Eva, who attended a clinic in Germany last year, was immediately connected to life support when she was rushed to hospital on April 4.
She was placed in isolation after being transferred to St George’s in London but did not wake.
Dean added: “Emma and I made the most difficult decision of our lives on Friday and opted to have her transferred home so close family could say their goodbyes.
“She was confirmed and anointed by Father Patrick [McKeown] before we turned off her breathing machine.
“She didn’t take another breathe and our little princess can finally walk and run again – she is free, she is happy.”
The family’s GoFundMe page has raised more than £115,000.
"She touched the hearts of everyone and how people pulled together to help her has just been incredible" - Dean Giles
About half of the total has already been spent on Eva’s treatment and funeral, but the rest will be split between charities.
Dean, a product manager, says more needs to be done to help with DIPG treatment.
“Brain tumour research receives less than 1% of national cancer research spending in UK,” he added.
“We need to keep pushing to raise awareness of DIPG in general so more funding can go into research and trials.
“I would like to thank everyone for donating and being there for us and showing Eva so much love and support.”
Eva’s funeral will be held on Tuesday, April 18 at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart church in Clarence Road at 11.30am.
Friends and family are welcome and mourners are asked to brighten their outfits with purple, pink or yellow, Eva’s favourite colours.