Belfast Telegraph

Tragic little Eva Tomney inspired trio of help books for kids battling cancer

By Joanne Sweeney

She died much too soon at the age of seven, but little Eva Tomney's battle with cancer has inspired a new range of books which will help other children facing their own fight against the disease.

The Co Armagh girl's aunt Tracy Hughes inspired the three books, which explain some of the traumatic side-effects of cancer treatment.

Eva, who came from Keady, died on November 28 last year after a three-year battle against a brain tumour.

Quick-thinking Tracy (31) managed to turn the heartbreaking moment when Eva asked why her long hair was falling out after radiotherapy into something exciting and calming.

To divert her niece's attention, the business studies teacher told her that her hair was going away on an adventure.

Now, the The Adventures Of Eva's Hair is one of three books written and published by Tracy and her business studies students at St Patrick's College, Dungannon, as part of a Young Enterprise Company project.

Tracy explained: "Eva was a really beautiful child in every sense of the word, stunning to simply admire.

"Her death was more of a loss than I can bear to think about.

"You can imagine how hard this Christmas has been for us all, her mum Kellie and nanny Geraldine, and for everyone at home and at school who supported her.

"We weren't expecting her to die that day she took bad.

"It's like her little body had had enough."

After Eva's tumour was diagnosed she went through a 12-hour operation in October 2012.

Shew then underwent extensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment.

Just weeks later, as the little girl scratched her head one morning, her hair came out in handfuls.

Tracy recalled: "Eva asked me: 'Tracy, can you put that back in?' I just looked at her. Somehow, the thought of her hair going on an adventure was the first thing that came into my head, and I told her that to stop myself from crying.

"Then, as her nanny pointed out pictures on the computer of other little girls whose hair had fallen out due to cancer treatment, I brushed the rest of her hair until it all came out."

Eva went on to have all her teeth taken out because of the toxicity of the treatment, and also had to use a wheelchair as her condition progressed.

Tracy's students thought that her story for Eva was a brilliant way to help explain the side-effects of cancer treatment to children and their parents.

They opted to produce the original story, which tells of Eva's cancer journey in child-friendly language, while adding two more titles - The Adventures Of Tina's Teeth and The Adventures Of Will's Wheels.

"The truth is that some people are just too distraught to be able to cope with these side-effects when they arise and they simply don't know how," Tracy added.

"We would love to see the books in oncology departments in all of Northern Ireland's hospitals as our desire is that parents and children get joy out of these books.

"I know Eva would have loved these books immensely, which makes this all worthwhile.

"For my students to create something that is really needed and really valued by children and parents, I'm so immensely proud of them."

While Tracy wrote The Adventures Of Eva's Hair, her students, through the Enlighten Hope business, wrote, illustrated, designed and published the rest of the series.

The team was led by Iveta Liovinaite (17) and included Gizela Ferreira De Araujo Gusmao (17); Chloe Fitzpatrick (17); Dominika Cirson (17); Wioletta Golebiowska (19); Sean Kelly (18); Binta Balde Djaura (16), and Gabrielle Simkute (16).

Each book is priced £5 and is available from selected shops in Keady and online from

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