Evie-Mai is six years old. She lives with her sister, brothers, and mum in Merseyside. Her wish to visit Sweden was granted in May 2018. She used to be a boisterous little tomboy but all that changed when Evie was diagnosed with Wilms, a type of kidney cancer, in 2017.
From bad to worse
Mum, Rebecca, explains, “Early one morning she was screaming in pain, Evie’s belly was swollen and she couldn’t walk.
“When the doctors sat me down, I’d never heard of Wilms. I just thought they could take out her kidney and she could have mine – I was ready to do anything in that moment.
A ticking time-bomb
“Evie started chemo the same day she was diagnosed. Since then, every single day has been like a whirlwind and I still haven’t grieved for those days.
“As a parent, I blamed myself. I couldn’t understand how this thing was so big inside Evie and I missed it. I was second guessing everything - was there something I could have done to stop this or to find it earlier? It turns out Wilms can be present from birth and it’s a ticking time bomb – there’s no way of telling how long Evie’s watermelon-sized tumour was growing for.
Putting grown adults to shame
“Evie fought through intense chemotherapy, followed by surgery. The scarring was much worse than doctors expected and her pain was so strong that they gave her an epidural. When her hair began falling out, that was the hardest thing to explain to her. The illness changed her whole personality – she's quieter and looks to me for reassurance.”
Beautiful landscapes await
Evie-Mai’s favourite Uncle moved to Sweden a few years ago and Evie has always wanted to visit him. The family had planned a visit but had to cancel when Evie was diagnosed.
In May 2018, Evie’s wish was granted. She’d been telling everyone for months about her wish, and as soon as we got the wish pack from Wishgranter Amy, Evie picked out her outfits and packed her own bag.
Fridge magnets all round
“It was her first ever flight, and I haven’t flown since I was a kid,” adds Rebecca, “We met the pilot, and Uncle David came to meet us at the airport in Linköping, Sweden. As soon as Evie saw him she was yabbering away. Where he lives isn’t a holiday resort so there were no tourists. Evie said everything felt big and uncrowded – a world away from the busy hospital. But it was tricky to find souvenirs! When we did, Evie bought piles of fridge magnets and key rings – everyone in the family has one!
Time to breathe
“It was the longest I’ve been away from the other children, but after everything that Evie has been through, it was so nice to just be together, me and her, to do our own thing. To go for walks, not have to sit in hospital or give her medication. We went to ice cream parlours and play parks, explored the shops, visited a zoo and went to see the airplanes. At the zoo, there was a huge wooden rollercoaster, and Evie convinced the staff to let her on even though she was only just big enough!
A different girl
“She had so much fun in Sweden, and her confidence grew. She is a totally different girl now, worry-free and happy. The adults kept thinking she was a boy because her hair is still growing back after chemo, but she wasn’t phased by any of it. She just needed that break.”