How Liam and Helen Desic came together to Light the Night from their baby daughter’s hospital bed

05 September 2021
How Liam and Helen Desic came together to Light the Night from their baby daughter’s hospital bed

Just after midnight on Friday, 12 July 2019, Helen and Liam Desic welcomed their beautiful baby Audrey to the world.

The growing family were overjoyed, cherishing every precious moment together – while watching their baby daughter thrive...

Liam, Helen & Audrey Desic
Liam, Helen & Audrey Desic, Friday, 12 July 2019

In mid-2020, however – during strict COVID-19 restrictions – things began to take an unforeseen turn for the Desic family, as Audrey fell ill.

“Audrey had been sick for a couple weeks with a cold, then she woke with a sore on her chin that almost looked like boil, followed shortly by a swollen foot when she wasn’t even walking yet. We decided to take her to the hospital to get checked out, and although we knew she was unwell, cancer never crossed our minds.”

Soon after her first birthday, Audrey was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) on 9 August 2020.

Liam recalls the moment when she was diagnosed and they realised their lives were about to change forever.

“We were absolutely devastated. I can still replay the moment they told me in my head and the same emotions of pure heartbreak hit me again. Your mind goes from 0 to 100 thinking of every possible outcome and to the unthinkable worst possible scenario first.”

Liam could not be with his daughter when she was diagnosed due to the COVID-19 restrictions at the time.

“Because of the restrictions in place, Helen had to take Audrey to the hospital when she was sick and find out about her diagnosis alone – as only one carer was allowed into the emergency room.”

When Audrey was undergoing chemotherapy in hospital, she went months without seeing her extended family as only carers were allowed to be with her, which was difficult for both Liam and Helen.

Audrey Desic
Audrey Desic, 1, acute myeloid leukaemia, Queensland Children's Hospital

While Audrey was in and out of hospital for treatment, both parents did their best to create an environment that was as normal and comfortable for her as possible.

“We tried to surround her with lots of toys and activities and made a sort of routine for the days to make it feel more normal. We went on little walks around the ward so she could see the nurses and have a change of scenery. The few times we got to go home for a few days between rounds of chemo was really special as Audrey got to be in the outside world for a little bit.”

Audrey’s progression following treatment

Audrey responded very well to the treatment and is on course to have a cancer-free future.

She has been off treatment since the beginning of 2021, and has now been in remission for nearly 8 months.

Both Helen and Liam are thrilled with Audrey's progress after concluding treatment, and hopeful for their baby girl's future.

“She turned 2 on the 12th of July and we were so thrilled to celebrate that milestone. She has lots of hair growing through and she’s growing into a cheeky, incredible little girl.”

What Light the Night Means to the Desic Family

When we Light the Night, we honour those who have faced, and are facing, their own blood cancer journey.

We remember the loved ones lost, who will live forever in our hearts.

In 2020, Light the Night became an at-home event for the very first time, with most Australians participating in the lantern lighting ceremony from their homes.

For the Desic family, Light the Night was spent quite differently.

“For us, the first time we heard about Light the Night was while Audrey was in hospital.”

For many blood cancer patients who are in hospital, or alternative accommodation – it simply isn’t possible to Light the Night from home.

Since Audrey needed to remain in hospital to receive treatment, the Desic family decided to shine a light on blood cancer in their own special way.

“As our families were not able to physically be there with Audrey during her treatment, they wanted to show their support in other ways. We wanted to come together to raise money for the Leukaemia Foundation as they were standing with us in Audrey’s fight.”
Audrey Desic
Audrey Desic, 1, acute myeloid leukaemia, Light the Night 2020
"Light the Night is so special to us as it was eye-opening in showing us that Audrey is not alone in this blood cancer fight and that there are so many across Australia who are affected by Leukaemia. It also was a great way for us to spread awareness for what was involved in Audrey’s treatment and how more funds were needed.”

It was a beautiful moment to see both white and blue lanterns hanging by Audrey's hospital bed, as we come together to reflect, to remember and to share hope as a community who understand the darkness a blood cancer brings to our lives.

The Desic family will be joining us to Light the Night again to reflect on their blood cancer journey – and just how far they’ve come as a family in the last year – and we are looking forward to seeing their lanterns shine.

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