A Vancouver Island family that lost a young child to cancer is turning their tragedy into something positive.
The Comboyes started the first Canadian chapter of the Cure Starts Now to help fund pediatric brain cancer research.
The holidays are a difficult time of year for Cari Comboye and her family.
“It’s very hard. A lot of memories,” explains Comboye. “Christmas is about the magic of children and families being together, and we’re always without one.”
Her son, Liam, was just three years old when they found out he had an inoperable brain tumour.
“They flew us to Vancouver, BC Children’s, and within 12 hours found out he was palliative, so we had six months with him,” said Comboye.
Sadly, the survival rates for children with DIPG are very low. Knowing this, Comboye and her sister, Lindsay Walper, decided to turn their grief and pain into something positive.
“When you’re grieving the loss of a child, you go through those emotions, and we were kind of angry at the unfairness of it all. Cari and I aren’t angry people, and we didn’t like how it was making us feel, so we wanted to find something to put our grief into,” explained Walper.
The sisters launched the first Canadian chapter of the Cure Starts Now to fund research and, hopefully, save other families from heartache.
“We keep Liam’s legacy alive by trying to raise money and find a cure for these brutal brain cancers. So far, we have raised over $100,000 and donated it to Sick Kids in Toronto,” said Comboye.
“It gives you a sense of, I want to say, peace because of such a tragedy that happened in your life. You are fighting for the lives of other kids,” added Walper.
A pancake breakfast with Santa last month raised almost $12,000 for pediatric brain cancer, and a donor will be matching contributions made before the end of the year, up to $25,000.
“I hope that one day we will find the cure actually I know we’re going to find it. We have the outside of a puzzle, we’ve filled in that piece,” said Walper.
“Now we just need all the insides to come together.”
Liam always told his mom he wanted to help people when he grew up, and while his young life was tragically cut short, he’s doing just that.
“It makes me happy to know he’s not forgotten. He’s still with us,” added Comboye.
“He’ll always be remembered, and he’s doing what he wanted to do.”