It’s a tragic thing for parents to think that their child has a rare disease, especially to know that she will never live long and that they will never see her grow up. This is a story of an adorable 6-year-old girl, Elena Desserich.
Little Elena was diagnosed with a rare kind of disease, an inoperable brain cancer called intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG). Doctors gave her family the devastating news that she had only four months to live.
Knowing that sad truth, Elena’s family did their best to make the most out of her remaining days by making her happy all the time. But little did they know, Elena was also busy doing something that would leave a lasting expression of her love for her family.
Several months before her passing, she would spend time drawing and writing loving messages for her dad, mom, and sister Grace. These pieces of her heart were all over their home. Her family would find them literally everywhere.
Keith Desserich, Elena’s father, together with his entire family, thought that it would be better not to tell Elena that she would never live long.
“We wanted to protect her, so we never told her she might not make it,” he explains. “We didn’t want to focus on the cancer, we wanted to focus on being a family and doing all the things that Elena wanted to do.”
Elena’s mom, Brooke, said her drawings and messages had been very dear and comforting to them after her death. There were hundreds of them, all in all.
“I think the notes were her way of telling us that everything would be OK. It feels like a hug from her every time we find one.”
The Desserich family thought of compiling all of Elena’s drawings and notes. They decided to publish a book called Notes Left Behind two years after her passing.
The book tells of the struggles the Desserich couple went through, and how they managed to be in control of their emotions while battling their daughter’s cancer, but also knew and accepted the fact that Elena would eventually pass away. The book is also an account of what happened throughout Elena’s last months and how she brought joy and happiness to her family.
You’ll always be remembered, Elena.