Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

A story Elise will never forget

Jared Noel's daughter Elise is now 20 months old and thriving, says mum Hannah. Photo / Dean Purcell
Jared Noel's daughter Elise is now 20 months old and thriving, says mum Hannah. Photo / Dean Purcell

An Auckland doctor with terminal cancer, who won the hearts of New Zealanders after he revealed his dying wish was to meet his unborn daughter, has published a book posthumously about his journey.

Dr Jared Noel was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2008 and a scan in October 2013 revealed it had spread to his liver. He was told it was unlikely he would live to see 2014.

But with his first child due in January 2014, he was determined to live as long as he could.

Dr Noel, 33, and his wife Hannah, also a doctor, set up a Givealittle page to help them buy the drug Avastin, which can slow tumour growth. It was a long shot, but they were willing to do whatever they could so Dr Noel could experience fatherhood and meet his child.

Their $60,000 target was met within six hours and enabled Dr Noel to start taking the drug almost immediately.

On January 17, baby Elise was born and her father not only survived to meet her, he helped to deliver her.

He was able to share the first eight months of his baby's life before he died at home.

Through his blog, which he started in 2009 as a way to stave off boredom during his cancer treatment, Dr Noel chronicled his journey.

With just weeks left to live, Dr Noel decided to fulfil another dream and publish a book based on his blog. During those weeks, he sat down with Auckland writer and academic David Williams and told his story.

Message To My Girl: A dying father's powerful legacy of hope is released on Monday - a week before the first anniversary of his death.

"I'm quite excited about the release," Hannah Noel told the Weekend Herald.

"I think Jared would be really happy that it's been published. It was a long-standing goal for him to have a book published, both for Elise and for other people who read his blog.

"The sense that he wasn't going to live long enough for Elise to really know him made the writing of the book imperative."

In the four weeks before Dr Noel died, Williams visited the house 21 times to sit with him and work on the book.

They covered life, death, illness and everything the young father wanted for his baby girl.

"I just hope that people find it inspirational, that they find it interesting and that we are able to talk more about death and dying," said Hannah Noel.

"It's a very powerful example of a young man leaving a written legacy for his child. I would like to think that more people in Jared's situation would be encouraged to do the same thing. It will be very powerful for Elise, something she will benefit from greatly."

Elise is now 20 months old and thriving.

"She is doing really well," said Hannah Noel. "She's walking, running and talking. She's a really happy little girl and she brings a lot of joy to my world."

Hannah Noel and little Elise will also share their story on TVNZ's Sunday programme tomorrow.

- NZ Herald

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