A young grandmother whose “menopausal” abdominal pains turned out to be a rare form of cancer has defied doctors’ expectations that she would die before the end of 2021 and is now living her action-packed “best life”.
Eve Lauder, 47, a police officer, who lives in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, was shocked to discover she had advanced goblet cell carcinoma (GCC), which is believed to affect just one in every two million people, in December 2020.
Given just six to 12 months to live, Eve, who is single and is mum to Tiah, 23, and grandma to Obie, two and a half, vowed to beat the odds and made a list of things she wanted to do and see.
She has gone on to raise more than £30K for charity, has packed in 12 holidays and founded an annual Goblet Cell Charity Ball.
And during 2022 alone – when she was not expected to still be here – she has also carried the Queen’s baton at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and partied at Glastonbury while on chemo.
Eve said: “I’m living my best life and I plan to keep doing so. I’ve beaten my prognosis so far and I don’t want to slow down.
“I’m giving back as much as I can and just want to live life to the full.”
For Eve, the nightmare began when she started suffering from aches and pains around May 2020.
She said: “I started experiencing period-like pain in my abdomen – it was shooting pain through my stomach every now and then.
“At first I brushed it off. I thought I must be going through the menopause but after seven months, the pain hadn’t shifted.
“There wasn’t any big indicator or glowing red sign that something was seriously wrong, but I knew my own body, and I knew I needed to go to the doctors.”
Eve booked an appointment in mid November 2020 and was sent for further tests at Weston General Hospital.
She said: “They were stumped and, at first. They thought it was endometriosis but that was then disregarded.”
After more tests and a biopsy, Eve was called back to the hospital in mid December 2020.
She said: “At that point, I suspected it would be something like cancer but throughout the tests, my doctor had seemed positive it would be treatable.
“I imagined going in and finding out that I needed a small operation to cut something away.”
She added: “The day they asked me to come in was my daughter’s 22nd birthday so I didn’t tell anyone as I didn’t want to cause a fuss over nothing.
“I was so sure that everything would be fine that the news really did shock me.”
Eve was diagnosed with goblet cell carcinoma, which according to the NHS, is a rare and aggressive type of tumour that almost exclusively affects the appendix – which explained her abdominal pains.
And unfortunately, her cancer was advanced.
She said: “They told me that there was not much they could do as I was stage 4, and that I had between six to 12 months to live.
“I was just in shock. Because it was my daughter’s birthday, I didn’t say anything, instead I kept it to myself until the day was over.
“We all went out for the day and it was hard to keep it secret in front of them.”
Next morning, Eve phoned Tiah and broke the news to her.
She said: “It was devastating for both of us, but I was determined to fight the illness.”
Eve started chemotherapy at Weston General Hospital in a bid to slow the progression of the cancer.
She said: “It was very tough at first, causing bad side effects including a bleeding nose, fatigue, and chronic cramp in my stomach, but after 14 months, I switched over to chemo tablets which had smaller side effects.
“It meant I was still able to do things while having the treatment – I wasn’t completely wiped out by it, which was good because time was suddenly very precious to me.”
Eve added: “There were certain things I couldn’t do. I’ve always been very physically fit but I can’t run while on chemo because the treatment affects my breathing.
“But instead of dwelling on what I couldn’t do, I focused on what I can do.”
Soon after her diagnosis, Eve set about making a bucket list – and ticking things off from it.
She said: “There were festivals I wanted to go to and places I’ve never been. I’ve always really wanted to visit Germany so I added that to the list. Since making the list, I’ve been to the Bahamas, Menorca and Mallorca.”
Eve added: “I went to Glastonbury last month with a friend and, even though I was going through chemo during the festival, taking eight tablets a day, I had an amazing time.”
Since her diagnosis, Eve has also been raising money for Cancer Research UK.
She said: “Initially, I decided in February 2021 that I wanted to raise £150 but, setting up a fundraising link, within 28 days donations had topped £13,000.
“It was unbelievable. Friends and family from all over the world pitched in. I started doing more things – bingo nights, physical challenges like cycling, drag queen nights, and raffles.”
And Eve even held a fundraising ball.
She said: “In November 2021, I hosted my own big event, the Goblet Cell Charity Ball, which was held on the Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare with around 400 guests..
“It has become an annual event and I’m hosting the second ball this year.”
Eve has now raised over £30,000 for charity and in June 2022, she was chosen to carry the Queen’s baton in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
She said: “It was a really proud moment. I was nominated by my sister and friends and, on the day, I carried the baton 200 metres to the next person. It was a huge honour.”
Eve was also a Pride of Britain semi-finalist for the south west and, in between treatments of chemo, she took part in a 5km Race for Life last month, mixing running and walking to complete it.
She said: “The recognition I’ve received has been lovely but I’m just doing what I can to help out. I don’t want to miss a moment of life.”
Now, Eve is focused on the future and is determined to remain positive.
She said: “There is a possibility that a clinical trial could come up that I’m eligible for. That would be the last hope of stopping the progression of my cancer.“But I have already beaten the prognosis I was initially given and I don’t plan on slowing down.”
Eve continues to keep busy during her chemotherapy, which alternates two weeks on tablets and one week off, and is now making care packages for other cancer patients.
She said: “When told you’ll need chemo, you expect all of the obvious side effects – hair loss, fatigue and sickness.”
Eve added: “But there are other effects that people often don’t talk about. Cold hands, dry lips, a constant metal taste in your mouth.
“So I make oncology packages that I hand out at my local hospital for people going through chemo and they are full of things like lip balm, suncream, hand warmers. It’s just my way of giving back.”
And when she is not helping others, Eve continues to tick things off her bucket list.
She said: “I’m spending as much time as I can with my grandson in between the trips I’m taking. I’m just making the most of life.
“Next week, I’m off to a micro festival before going on a trip to Germany. Once I’m back, I’m going to London for an Abba weekend with some friends.”
And her optimism and joy in life shining through, Eve concluded: “Life is full of adventure and opportunity for me and I’m grabbing it with both hands.”
– Eve is supporting Race for Life in partnership with Tesco. Everyone has a reason to Race for Life. Who will you Race for? Sign up to your local event at raceforlife.org