Greater Victoria rallies behind boy battling cancer

Centennial Park Sunday hosted a fundraiser for Liam and his family

Make every moment count.

That is the mantra that has guided the Comboye family since three-year-old Liam, the oldest of two sons, received a diagnosis of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG).

An aggressive form of pediatric brain cancer, it attacks the middle of the brain stem and has a low rate of survival. “They are just enjoying every single moment that they have,” said Lindsay Walper, Liam’s aunt.

She spoke those words in Saanichton’s Centennial Park, mere steps away from a bouncy castle, where children, many not much older than Liam, are jumping up and down, filling the air-filled contraption with shrieks of joy.

They, along with their parents, have come to show their support for Liam and the B.C. Children’s Hospital by participating in another fundraiser for the family that featured all the trappings of a fun afternoon in the park.

A face-painting tent turned toddlers into superheroes, at least for a few hours, on this sunny September afternoon.

Agustin Torres, the Saanich-based realtor who helped organize the event, grilled hot dogs while his helper handed out soda cans and small bags of chips to the 100 or so who came from across the Greater Victoria area.

Parents sat with their children in a nearby patch of grass or made them chase soccer balls on the large field just down the slope from where Games 2U had set up the bouncy castle and an obstacle course. Overall, the event raised $1,773, split equally between B.C. Children’s Hospital and Liam’s family.

But Liam, his mother Cari, father Mike and nine-month-old brother Brody could not come themselves, as Liam’s tumour has doubled in size since July despite chemotherapy.

The knowledge of Liam’s likely future, or rather the knowledge of the possibilities potentially denied, was present throughout. Such thoughts debilitate, raise unanswerable questions and create their own imperatives all at once.

“How can any parent be doing when you are told that your child is dying?” said Walper, when asked about her sister.

“She is not doing very good, to be honest. She is struggling. Reality is very hard. You don’t want to think ahead. You are living in the moment. That’s all you have. You can’t think about the future, because the future doesn’t have him in it at all.”

Tashia Brewer, Cari’s best friend, is also grappling with this reality. She has known Liam’s mother since they were about 11 years old.

“We grew up together, we had our babies together, we got married together,” said Brewer. “We have been through everything together, I mean everything.”

Brewer’s daughter, Lily, is four months older than Liam and they grew up with each other. “They have been together like me and Cari the whole time” she said. “Lily and Liam.”

Brewer said news of Liam’s cancer shocked and angered her. “He doesn’t understand what’s going on,” she said. “It has basically stolen his life away. He is not progressing, he is not learning, he cannot do public things, he cannot go out and play normally like he used to. It has basically taken everything.”

Brewer said her daughter Lily constantly asks about Liam. “Everything that she does, she asks if he is coming. Everything that she does with friends, every park, every place, she asks if Liam is coming. When I tell her that Liam is too sick, she tells me she is sick too. That is where her mentality is.”

Brewer’s 62-year-old mother recently died of cancer and she is not yet prepared to tell Lily the full extent of what lies ahead. This recent, personal history with cancer has inevitably coloured Brewer’s response.

“My mom died of lung and brain cancer less than a year ago, and there is so much research,” she said. “There is no hope in DIPG. As I said to Cari, I would literally lose my mom 10 times over for him to be OK. She had choices. Liam has none.”

 

Cari and Mike Comboye with their son Liam, 3 and son Brody, then five months, in BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver earlier this year. Doctors diagnosed Liam with an aggressive brain tumour.

Emma Pine of Games2U paints the face of four-year-old Keira Mirandette during Sunday’s fundraiser for the B.C. Children’s Hospital and Liam Comboye. The three-year-old recently received a diagnosis of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), an aggressive brain cancer. Wolfgang Depner / News Staff

The line up for the bouncy castle was study during Sunday’s fundraiser for the B.C. Children’s Hospital and Liam Comboye. The 3-year-old recently received a diagnosis of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), an aggressive brain cancer. Wolfgang Depner / News Staff

Just Posted

Victoria gets back on the bike for week-long commute competition

Second Bike to Work Week hits the pavement Oct. 22 to 28

VIDEO: Tent city moves to Woodwynn Farm, arrests made

The group is asking the government to provide housing for 60 tent city members

Saanich passenger caught smoking weed in a car issued $230 fine

Saanich police did a field sobriety test on the driver and deemed it safe for him to drive

Cougar spotted Saturday morning in Saanich

Police found paw prints consistent with cougars in the area

B.C. Guide dogs is looking for volunteer puppy raisers

Labrador retrievers need to learn obedience and socialization before heading to work

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for Oct. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

Team Canada gold medal winners for first time in world curling championship

Team Canada earned gold in Kelowna at the 2018 Winn Rentals World Mixed Curling Championship

Payette invites critics to ‘come and spend a few days’ with her

Governor General Julie Payette made her first official to B.C. back in March

More pot stores expected in B.C. in coming ‘weeks and months’: attorney general

Attorney General David Eby and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth visited the new BC Cannabis Store in the province’s Interior

Telus launches charitable foundation to help vulnerable youth

The Telus Friendly Future Foundation complements other social initiatives by the company, including Mobility for Good

Police say suspicious death of B.C. artist ruled a homicide

Patrick Zube Aylward’s body was found in a residence on a rural road outside of Seton Portage, west of Lillooet, B.C.

Temporary roads being built in areas affected by landslide in northern B.C.

Emergency Management BC news release says Disaster Financial Assistance is available to eligible residents of the Peace River Regional District who may have been affected by the landslides

Most Read