‘Gow lass who beat cancer started Race for Life

Ava Campbell (left) and Evie Gilroy met in hospital while recovering from the same cancer.
Ava Campbell (left) and Evie Gilroy met in hospital while recovering from the same cancer.

On Sunday the honour of starting the Race for Life against cancer in Glasgow fell to a wee Lesmahagow lass who has already won her battle with the dread disease at the age of four.

Carrying out the duty on Glasgow Green with Evie Gilroy was a another little girl from Lanarkshire who shared that fight with her.

Both brave girls more than deserved the honour of jointly sounding the starting klaxon at the major fundraising event for Cancer Resaerch UK, attracting 9000 runners.

Evie and her pal Ava Campbell, also four, of Coatbridge both lost kidneys - and their long blonde locks - as they successfully underwent treatment at Glasgow’s Yorkhill Hospital last year.

A Cancer Research spokeswoman explained: “Their friendship began in hospital where they both endured months of treatment but then also celebrated together after they both got the all-clear.”

The inspirational story started in April of last year when Evie was diagnosed with cancer after mum Yvonne (38) a community staff nurse, saw a spot of blood on her underwear at bedtime.

She needed four cycles of pre-surgery chemo on a cancerous tumour before an operation to remove her right kidney last July.

Meanwhile wee Ava faced a similar ordeal but also emerged alive and well.

The charity spokeswoman went on: “When the girls were first introduced in the playroom of the hospital, Ava was yet to have her surgery to remove her right kidney and Evie was just recovering from her operation.

“Side effects of chemotherapy meant both girls lost their long blonde hair during treatment but both wore Disney princess headbands with faux ponytails attached.”

Said mum Yvonne: “The girls hit it off immediately.

“When I got talking to Ava’s parents, I discovered what they were going through was very similar to how my husband Andrew and I were feeling.

“It was so nice to see the girls playing together. Before long the girls were pleading with us to visit each other’s hospital rooms to play.

“What they were going through was horrible, but at least they each had a friend who was facing the same thing.

“When Evie’s hair began to come out in clumps I asked her if it would be okay to shave it and she said yes. No mum wants to have to do that for their little girl.

“I had a lump in my throat when she turned round smiling at the end and said ‘look mummy, now I’m just like all the other boys and girls in hospital’.

“I know that part was hard on my husband too.”

She and her 35-year-old farmer husband celebrated when told Evie was cancer-free in December.

Both girls are now looking forward to starting school in August, Ava at Kirkshaws Primary in Coatbridge and Evie at Milton Primary in Lesmahagow.

Despite living miles apart, the two little Race for Life starters will remain firm pals - Friends for Life, in fact.