Three-year-old Liam Comboye passed away just over one year ago from a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer. His family is now honouring him by starting a chapter of a non-profit called the Cure Starts Now in Canada. (Photo courtesy of Cari Comboye)

One year later: Family to honour toddler who died of cancer with fundraiser

The Comboye family hopes to raise awareness of rare brain cancer

Just over one year after Mike and Cari Comboye lost their three-year-old son Liam to cancer, the family is ready to rally and make a difference in his honour.

In October 2017, Liam Comboye died from diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) — a rare form of pediatric brain cancer that impacts the brain stem. The cancer is terminal and resistant to treatments like chemotherapy.

“The only thing they have for kids who have it is radiation and that just buys you a little more time,” said Cari Comboye. “With Liam it gave us an extra two months.”

Comboye and her sister took it upon themselves to form a local chapter of the Cure Starts Now, a non-profit organization that was originally started in 2007 in the United States.

READ MORE: Remembering Liam Comboye: Family to set up non-profit for toddler who died of cancer

Upon Liam’s diagnosis, Comboye said she contacted the Cure Starts Now to see what could be done.

“I was like ‘this is just not right for there to be no treatment and you’re told your child is going to die,’” Comboye said.

There are 40 chapters of the Cure Starts Now in the United States, all started by parents who lost a child to DIPG according to Comboye. Many of the parents just wanted to be able to do something to raise awareness about DIPG and fund research to find a cure.

“You can either choose to be angry and miserable or put that energy into something good,” Comboye said.

In June, Comboye was able to find a lawyer and board members and the non-profit is now a registered corporation as well as the first chapter in Canada.

In about one week, they will be holding their first fundraiser in support of DIPG research.

On Dec. 9, the Cure Starts Now will hold a pancake breakfast with Santa and super heroes at the Royal Oak Women’s Institute Hall.

Batman — who visited Liam a few times when he was in hospital — will be there along with other super heroes to read and sing songs with children at the event.

READ MORE: Greater Victoria rallies behind boy battling cancer

Professional photos with Santa and the heroes will also be available.

“We’re hoping to spread awareness about this horrible tumor that took Liam away too early,” Comboye said.

The founders of the Cure Starts Now — Keith and Brook Desserich — will also fly in from Cincinnati, Ohio to show their support for the family and for the first Canadian chapter of the organization.

“Liam is basically the face of Canada’s DIPG warriors now so it’s huge,” Comboye said. “We hope to grow and hopefully chapters will open up under us.”

Comboye said family, friends and community members have come together to support the Comboye’s and honour Liam.

“This is Liam’s legacy,” Comboye said in tears. “He always said he wanted to help people and this is his way of helping people.”

The pancake breakfast fundraiser in honour of Liam Comboye will take place on Dec. 9 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Royal Oak Women’s Institute Hall. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids age five and over and free for kids under five.

Liam’s page for the Cure Starts Now can be found here.

Details about the pancake breakfast can be found here.

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


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