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Family needs support after leukemia diagnosis
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Lillian Lariscy has acute myeloid leukemia, a blood disease that usually strikes adults 60 and older. - photo by Submitted

RINCON — Dwight Lariscy's heart is broken. It was shattered by shocking news.

Lillian, his 14-month-old daughter, has acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a blood disease that usually strikes adults 60 and older. She started intensive chemotherapy soon after her diagnosis less than two weeks ago.

According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, AML is extremely difficult to cure.

"It's not looking ...," Lariscy said, refusing to complete an awful sentence. "Her liver has already shut downso ..."

Lariscy can barely get a mental grip on what has happened to his child.

"We were playing in the yard with the cat and my wife (Britney) noticed that she looked a little jaundiced — like her skin was turning a little bit yellow," Lariscy said.

The May 6 discovery prompted the concerned parents to call a pediatrician. They made an appointment with the doctor for the following day and he immediately rushed her to Savannah's Memorial Hospital after conducting blood tests that revealed her condition.

Lillian is expected to stay in the hospital for at least a month before she can return home.

"They installed a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) into her heart and started chemotherapy," Lariscy said, "and they gave her a spinal tap, and injected chemo into her back because the cancer is in her brain."

Lillian's immune system is barely functioning, leaving her susceptible to secondary diseases.

"She's at less than one percent, so her immune system is gone," her father said.
Still, Lillian remains mostly alert.

"It's situational," Lariscy said. "She will wake up sometimes feeling OK and sometimes she will wake up (extremely fussy)."

When Lillian completes her initial chemotherapy treatments, she will be kept in isolation.

Lariscy, a self-employed mechanic who lives near Faulkville, said the staggering medical costs are more than his family can bear.

"We blew through our life savings in three days," he said. "I really don't know what to do. I know right now that I can't afford to go buy a cup of coffee."

An inpatient oncology social worker at Memorial Hospital seeks assistance for the family through CURE and other agencies.

Lariscy is unable to work because a parent must be with Lillian at all times. His wife takes care of their other children, two boys, ages 6 and 4.

Despite monetary concerns, Lariscy said he has learned that time is the most valuable of commodities.

"Cherish the little bit of time that you've got because you don't know how fast it can go away," he said. "I wish I had done a lot more for Lilly. I wish I had spent more time with her ...

"I have a lot of regrets."

A account has been set up on the Lillian's behalf. You can find it by using #BabyLillyStrong in the search field.