When Liana was diagnosed with leukemia, she turned to her love of baking to help her cope.
Her wish, to learn to make authentic foods in Hawaii, gave her the dash of hope, sprinkle of energy and pinch of courage she needed to look forward and begin the new chapter in her life.
“Cooking helped Liana pass the time while she was sick,” said Liana’s mom, Mazal. “Our whole life changed when she was diagnosed. She needed to stay in the hospital for a whole week and, at one point, she was taking 52 pills a day.”
Liana used baking to deal with nearly three years of treatment, spending her free time testing out new recipes and creating sweet treats.
“My passion is baking, especially cake, and it’s something I’ve been doing since I was a little girl,” said Liana. When she was told she qualified for a wish, she determined her wish would include baking of some kind, but she also wanted more.
“Her treatments went from three times a week, to once a week, to once per month, and now she is no longer receiving treatment. Her physicians gave her the ok to travel somewhere after being stuck inside our house or the hospital for so long,” Mazal said.
Liana’s wish to make authentic foods in Hawaii was the perfect way for her to expand her knowledge of recipes and celebrate the end of her treatment on vacation with her family.
“She wasn’t able to swim for three years because of her cancer, so she wanted to go somewhere warm with beautiful beaches. Liana saw a lot of pictures of Hawaii and she wanted to see dolphins and snorkel in the ocean,” Mazal said.
Once her family arrived, Liana received a special one-on-one cooking lesson with island chef Daniel Swifts and, of course, a chance to enjoy the food she made at the end of the day.
“I learned how to make pineapple upside down cake and other Hawaiian foods,” Liana said. “It was a lot of fun and I discovered some new tips and tricks about cooking while I was there.”
During the rest of her wish trip, Liana spent most of her days swimming, and enjoyed hiking at Manoa Falls and visiting island attractions like the Polynesian Cultural Center with her family.
“Liana was very happy that she was able to do something so special for her wish. She wanted to get that personal experience and she still loves to cook and bake all the time,” Mazal said.
Liana, whose treatment schedule is now ‘well done’, is excited to recreate some of the recipes she learned on her trip and she’s looking forward to her future.
“I’m definitely a lot better at baking since my wish and I hope to open my own bakery one day,” Liana said.