Family's tribute to little hero Eva as they prepare for funeral
The village of Keady will pause today to say goodbye to the "boisterous, bubbly, witty little girl" Eva Tomney, who died over the weekend.
Just seven, Eva had battled with ill-health for most of her short life. She was wheelchair-bound from the age of four after a tough battle with cancer and had dreamed of learning to walk again so she could play with her brother Paddy.
Speaking on behalf of her entire family, her aunt Tracy Hughes said Eva was their "hero" and that they would remember her "charm and charisma beyond her years" and as someone who "stole the limelight with her beauty".
She had been looking forward to starting nursery school in 2012 when she began to experience a sore neck and a lack of balance. Soon afterwards her parents Kellie and Paddy were given the crushing news that Eva was suffering from a large brain tumour that had spread to her spine.
An intense nine-month course of chemotherapy followed, with Eva's family praying by her hospital bed each day. By October 2013 all traces of cancer had been erased from her body, but the high level of toxicity from the chemotherapy and radiotherapy drastically reduced her mobility, making her dependent on the wheelchair.
In such a devastating time for the family Tracy said that Eva amazed everyone around her with her bravery.
"Throughout treatment following diagnosis she demonstrated tenacity, determination and courage way over and above what anyone could have hoped or imagined," she said.
Despite lacking mobility towards the end of her life, Tracy said that Eva made up for it "with her wicked sense of humour and razor-sharp personality".
She had dreamed of learning to walk again and having the freedom to play with brother Paddy, one year older than her.
"She had a very special bond with her brother," said Tracy. "His heart and patience served her so lovingly throughout her time of need. She knew his love and he knew hers."
Her family had fought to make her dream of walking come true, and after research had started fundraising for two specialist pieces of medical equipment costing £15,000: a Giger MD Locomotive to help her walk and a resonant light machine to rebuild her immune system.
There was huge public support for the 'Eva: Journey back to walking campaign' with friends and family taking part in a fun run and walk around Keady, raising thousands of pounds in the process.
Despite her courageous fight to regain her health, and the best efforts of all those who tried their best to save her, Eva sadly passed away on Saturday.
Today the funeral will leave the home of her grandparents Brendan and Geraldine Toal at Fairgreen, stopping at Newry Christian Centre for prayers, before returning for a 1pm funeral Mass at St Patrick's Church with the burial shortly after in the adjoining cemetery.
The many people who were part of Eva's life were praised by her family, who said: "You've been a credit; and although the story didn't finish how we intended - you have blessed us and Eva immensely with your giving."
Fleming Fulton School in Belfast was credited as "providing her with endless hours of love, fun and relationships which enabled her personality to shine through as her confidence and belief in herself developed".
The medical staff who looked after Eva, especially at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and Craigavon Area Hospital were also praised for caring for Eva "throughout her journey".
Reflecting on the life of her niece cut short, Tracy added: "We rejoice today in the life that Eva led, in the memories we created together and in the example she has set and left for us.
"She is our hero."