When Corby girl Eve Lyons passed away last June at the age of 11 after a two-year battle with cancer, her sisters knew life would never be the same.
But Meg, 23, and Beth, 21, say Eve’s bravery during treatment and the support they received from people in their home county of Northamptonshire helps them stay strong.
The sisters also say they are determined to keep Eve’s memory alive and to raise awareness of the need for vital cancer research.
Now they have signed up to take part in Corby Race for Life, at West Glebe Park, on Sunday (May 20) and will be speaking on stage about their much-loved and much-missed little sister.
They hope others will join them on the day or take part in Northampton Race for Life later this year on June 3 at Abington Park.
Meg Lyons, an actor, said: “Eve was such a character! She has gone way too soon and never had the chance to show what she could go on to be. I am sure she would’ve done so well.
“People ask us how we are so strong and stay so positive.
“The way we see it, she was such a special person and so positive through everything.
“We know she went to hell and back but she had such positivity and laughter and that helps us through.
“If she could cope with the pain and treatment, then we can cope and be positive for her.
“It’s lovely that we can be like her in that way.
“She hasn’t had a chance to live her life and that makes me think – go and live your life, do what you want to and do it well.”
Eve was diagnosed with Stage 4 Ewing’s Sarcoma in July 2015 and underwent a year of treatment including chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
In July 2016, she relapsed and started a new course of chemotherapy. Eve sadly passed away in June 2017.
Eve was the baby of the family and was doted on by her sisters – but she also won many hearts locally.
More than 700 people attended her funeral, coming from her home town of Corby and from Stanion – where Eve’s parents now live – as well as further afield.
Eve’s school is planning a memorial garden in the school fields, with unicorns and rainbows at centre stage, and an artist is helping with a mosaic wall in her memory too.
Meg and Beth were both studying at the Performance Preparation Academy in Guildford, Surrey, when Eve was diagnosed.
They say the support from friends and staff at the college was key to them coping.
Staff and students let off balloons in Eve’s memory after she passed away, a studio theatre has been renamed in Eve’s honour as well.
Some of the students will travel to Corby Race for Life to take part alongside Meg and Beth.
Beth, a performance arts student, said: “We are doing the 10k course at Race for Life, friends are coming with us from London.
“People have contacted us from Corby to say they will take part – they said, how can they not now!
“More than 700 people came to Eve’s funeral. Some hadn’t met her but they were touched by her story.
“We feel lucky to come from Corby.
“The community looked after us but respected our privacy.
“Now they are getting behind us for Race for Life, the response has been amazing. We can do this together for Eve.”
Eve’s family are continuing to raise awareness for Cancer Research UK by supporting Stand Up To Cancer and Race for Life as they desperately want to see advances in treatments.
Eve appeared on Channel 4’s Stand Up To Cancer programme where millions watched her talk about her treatment.
Recently many viewers were left in tears as Eve’s battle against cancer was remembered on the Stand Up To Cancer Great Celebrity Bake Off.
Meg said: “If the treatment had been kinder, those two years would’ve been easier for Eve. She could’ve been more like herself.
“Treatment is harsh for anyone, let alone a small child. If we can help fundraising for research and improve things for other families then that means a lot.
“It’s lovely knowing that we can do something as Eve’s legacy.”
There are a number of Race for Life events in the county this year.
The Corby 5K and 10K Race for Life events take place on Sunday, May 20, at West Glebe Park; followed by the Northampton Pretty Muddy and the all new Pretty Muddy Kids event on Saturday, June 2, and the Northampton 5K and 10K Race for Life, on Sunday, June 3, at Abington Park.
Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, is an inspiring women-only series of 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy, Half Marathon and Hiking events which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer sooner by funding crucial research. Cara Waller, Cancer Research UK’s Corby event manager, said: “We are so very grateful to Meg and Beth for their support and for taking part in Race for Life in Eve’s memory.
“We have come a long way with research but Eve’s story shows how much more there is to do.
“By following their lead and signing up to Race for Life, you can make a real difference in the fight against cancer.
“Money raised will help Cancer Research UK scientists and doctors find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease, helping save more lives.
“Money raised through Race for Life is helping to drive research to help beat over 200 different types of cancer – that’s why every step, every person and every penny raised counts.”
One in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage in their lives, but the good news is more people are surviving the disease now than ever before.
Cancer survival in the UK has doubled since the early 1970s and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress.