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'Children are amazing' - Ipswich nine-year-old's 'extraordinary' gesture to friend in cancer relapse

PUBLISHED: 11:01 17 June 2019 | UPDATED: 13:03 17 June 2019

Eve Belcher is having her hair cut after her friend Arabella Scannell relapsed with cancer. Picture: KATE BELCHER

Eve Belcher is having her hair cut after her friend Arabella Scannell relapsed with cancer. Picture: KATE BELCHER

Kate Belcher

The youth of today can sometimes come in for criticism - but one Ipswich nine-year-old is showing "extraordinary" empathy for a friend battling a devastating cancer relapse.

Eve Belcher is having her hair cut after her friend Arabella Scannell relapsed with cancer. Picture: KATE BELCHEREve Belcher is having her hair cut after her friend Arabella Scannell relapsed with cancer. Picture: KATE BELCHER

Eve Belcher formed a strong bond with Arabella Scannell ever since she was made the six-year-old's "buddy" on Arabella's return to St Joseph's College in January this year from battling leukaemia.

So when Arabella's illness came back aggressively in May, meaning she had return to hospital and undergo yet more intensive chemotherapy, Eve was left shell-shocked.

MORE: 'She will continue to fight' - brave Ipswich girl, 6, in devastating cancer relapse

"One of the most difficult things was explaining to Eve that Arabella had cancer," said Kate Belcher, Eve's mother.

Arabella Scannell is back in hospital after a cancer relapse. Picture: ELLIE SCANNELLArabella Scannell is back in hospital after a cancer relapse. Picture: ELLIE SCANNELL

"Her understanding was that old people got cancer.

"For her to come to terms with the fact that a little child who was healthy and energetic suddenly had this dangerous and frightening illness was really difficult."

Yet the moment the dreadful news came through, Eve was asking: "What can I do to help?"

Aware that Arabella's beautiful long hair - which she is likely to lose as a result of her intensive chemotherapy - is part of her identity, she has decided to have her own hair cut very short at Hadleigh Hairloom at 9am on Saturday, June 29.

Arabella Scannell celebrating her sixth birthday in Addenbrooke'’s Hospital in Cambridge. Picture: ELLIE SCANNELLArabella Scannell celebrating her sixth birthday in Addenbrooke'’s Hospital in Cambridge. Picture: ELLIE SCANNELL

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It is no small commitment - Eve's hair is so long, it goes down to her waist - but Mrs Belcher said her daughter "wanted to do something pro-active that best communicated her understanding of the dire situation".

Mrs Belcher added: "For Arabella to lose her hair made Eve think about her identity with her own hair.

"She thought: 'I've got this long, long hair which is part of my identity. Arabella didn't have a say in losing hers.'

"Eve's capacity for empathy is extraordinary. She's spoken very fondly of Arabella and can't even begin to imagine what Arabella's parents are going through.

"Everyone feels so helpless but at least it's something she can do. This is just one really small gesture, helping Arabella's family to know how cared for they are and how special they are.

"I know there is a lot of love and concern for Arabella at the school and in the community. More than anything we just want them to know how much people care about them."

MORE: 'She's a little fighter!' Brave little Arabella's fightback against deadly leukaemia

Eve's family have set up an online fundraising page, with her hair also due to be donated to make into wigs for children who have lost their hair during chemotherapy.

On Eve's fundraising page - which raised hundreds of pounds within hours of launching - Mrs Belcher wrote: "Whilst dear Arabella remains in hospital receiving treatment and fighting her almighty battle for a second time, as a community we are doing all we can to come together and show support in any and every way we know how.

"This fundraising effort is Eve's way of standing up against leukaemia."

To donate, visit the fundraising page here.

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