Skip to main content

3-year-old B.C. boy inspires legacy of hope for children diagnosed with terminal brain tumours

Central Saanich, B.C. -

As soon as Liam Comboye learned to laugh, his mom says her baby strived to share it.

"It was a belly laugh," Cari Comboye says, before playing videos of her baby laughing in the tub, before becoming a toddler and giggling with their cat.

When he wasn’t laughing, Liam would be asking to help care for his little cousin or younger brother.

"He always wanted to help with everything," Cari says, before showing pictures of Liam doing just that. "Bottle feeding, bum changes, singing."

There’s a video of little Liam singing "Itsy Bisty Spider" to keep his baby brother Brody entertained at the kitchen table.

If you ask Brody what Liam loved most back then, he’ll tell you his big brother "loved Batman."

Liam always strived to be a superhero.

"Just after his third birthday, we said [to Liam], 'What do you want to be when you grow up?'" Cari recalls asking. "And he said, 'I just want to help people.'"

Liam was also three years old when he started suffering from night terrors. He struggled with going down stairs and his walking became wobbly.

"And then his left eye turned inward," Cari says, fighting back tears. "Like [it was] crossed."

Which led to Liam to be diagnosed with a DIPG brain tumour.

"It’s inoperable," Cari recalls being told. "And he’s palliative."

The video of how Liam spent the next six months, including his stay in hospital, shows the boy striving to make visitors laugh, singing them songs, and cradling the visiting babies in his three-year-old arms.

He took every opportunity to make others happy, until the infectious laughter that once lit up a room, was forever confined to a video on a phone.

"You’re in a dark, dark hole," Cari says, recalling the months after Liam’s death. "But I had a six-month-old baby you can’t forget about."


Cari says she couldn’t feel more thankful for her supportive family and her team of mental health professionals.

But she says the real turning point came when she considered what Liam would be wondering if he was in this situation.

"What can I do to make myself feel better by helping?" Cari recalls. "Help another family? Help another child?"

It inspired Cari and her sister, Lindsay Walper, to launch a national charity called The Cure Starts Now and enlist the help of Liam’s siblings and cousins.

Their events, featuring people dressed as Liam’s beloved superheroes, have raised almost $200,000 to support Canadian research into palliative paediatric brain tumours.

They’ve also taught the children in this family a lesson in caring.

If you ask Brody about the best things in life, he’ll answer with lemonade, going to waterparks, and ice cream.

If you ask if there’s one thing better, he’ll tell you about how it feels to be like his big brother Liam and help others.

"[It’s] really good," he says.

"I want to continue [Liam’s] legacy and this is it," Cari says. "This is how we do it."

By giving other families across the country hope of more laughter-filled days, and ensuring little Liam’s dream of growing up to help others comes true. Top Stories

Stay Connected