Leicestershire, UK: A painted stone memorial in Leicestershire in the English Midlands is a focus of mourning for seven-year-old Isla Tansey, who passed away after a battle with spine cancer and inspired a global art campaign to raise awareness of childhood cancer.
Isla Tansey died at home with her parents and big brother Harrison by her side after her battle with a spinal tumour, at the age of 7.
Isla woke up in August last year unable to walk and was diagnosed with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma — a tumor which normally develops in the brain.
The tumor had been found in her spinal cord, which left her unable to feel the lower part of her body.
She had a Stage 4 diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a tumor which normally develops in the brain.
Isla had an operation in September 2017 which left her unable to feel her lower body and the growth continued to develop afterwards.
But after having an operation and radiotherapy to have part of the tumor removed, it mutated and in April this year she was given just weeks to live.
The brave youngster started the #islastones campaign, encouraging people around the world to paint and hide stones, posting pictures of them online for Isla to see.
Pebbles were painted and hidden in all seven continents, with one placed by researchers at the South Pole, and the dedicated Facebook group reached more than 67,800 members.
Supporters have also tied dozens on colorful balloons and placed cuddly toys, including her favorite unicorns, on the railings in her honor.
Laura Smith posted on the #islastones Facebook group on the morning of July 11: “It is with heavy hearts and the deepest sadness that our beautiful princess Isla has passed away peacefully yesterday evening.
“We are all devastated.
“At this time Katherine and Simon would like to be given some space to be with Harrison, close family and friends.”
Hundreds of stones were laid at a memorial set up in the bandstand in Argents Mead, where Isla used to enjoy dancing with her family, along with balloons and flowers.
Several of the tributes were unicorn themed and many Facebook users have changed their profile photos to pictures of the mystical animal, one of Isla’s favorites.
Isla’s mum Katherine posted on the #islastones group: “We all miss Isla so much, our lives will never be the same with out her, we are devastated because she was so truly amazing, beautiful and loved so much.
“We went to Isla’s bandstand in Hinckley and we are so so so so so overwhelmed and felt so much love.
“And basically that is what life is about, love, life and laughter.
“Harrison our beautiful little man has been so amazing, he was there for his sister right until the end and has been so awesome since.
“xWe love you Smiler x so much xx”
Sharon Bailey Collinson posted a picture on the #islastones page of a stone she had decorated with a smiling picture of Isla with angel wings.
She said: “This was the hardest stone I’ve ever painted, as it was done through tears of sadness, and tears of joy, thinking of what a truly remarkable little girl Isla was, and always will be.
“She truly touched my heart, as she has thousands of others. And will remain in our hearts forever.
“I think this completely sums up how we are all thinking of her today.
“A beautiful angel, smiling and sending love with no more pain.”
Susan Ross wrote on Facebook: ‘Bless this little girl for being so positive — my love to her family — rest in peace Isla — may you be surrounded by angles and unicorns.’
Wendy Bullivant said: ‘So sad to hear this news, we have all enjoyed looking for the stones. She was an inspiration to us all. Lots of love to her family xx.’
The colourful stones were found and replaced in parks and other places in Hinckley, Burbage and Barwell, with designs including lizards, bees, butterflies, as well as patterns, hearts and glitter decorations.
Other pebbles were placed as far afield as Mexico, Thailand and Canada, reaching more than 90 countries.
Isla and her family cut the ribbon to launch Burbage Carnival 2018, with three carnival-themed stones hidden in the carnival field and a prizes for those who found them.
A celebration of life in memory of Isla Tansey will be held at the park next Friday.