Published Apr 14, 2021
MTV’s The Challenge star Ashley Cain, 30, has been dealing with hospitals, doctors, and an insurmountable amount of pain and stress since his little baby daughter was diagnosed with leukemia at 8 weeks old. Doctors recently told Cain and his partner, Safiyya Vorajee, 33, that their precious 8-month old baby only has days to live, and despite holding out hope for a miracle, they have accepted her fate and are making the most of life’s simple pleasures with their daughter while they still can.
“Today was the first time in the 8 months of Fatherhood that I’ve had the chance to walk down the street with my baby in my arms. No hospital, no isolation, no pram with a protective cover… Just me, and my baby, doing what a daddy and daughter should be able to do,” the loving father wrote on his Instagram, along with a beautiful photo of himself holding Azaylia in their neighborhood. “When I say this to you all I really mean it… Appreciate what you have, cherish every single moment and always be the best you that you can be for the ones you love.”
Cain continued to express his gratitude for the incredible amount of support they have received. “I have been told today, there is an official doorstep clap that’s been organised for Azaylia tonight at 7pm,” he said. “To this day, I am still amazed and overwhelmed at the amount of love and support for my beautiful daughter, and I am grateful for everyone who has arranged and will be taking part in tonight’s clap, to show support for Azaylia and her journey.”
“Despite what’s going on, I truly feel blessed that I get to spend these days with the best thing that ever happened to me,” he added. “They will stay with me in my heart forever!”
The family has been showered with love and support from around the world, and last year, the little girl’s heroic fight even inspired a record-breaking number of stem cell donors to join the Anthony Nolan registry, a charity out of the UK that specifically helps blood cancer patients.
“We had over 40,000 applications to join the register in three days,” said Anthony Nolan’s chief marketing officer Terence Lovell. “To give you a comparison to normal, we usually see around 100 applications a day to join the register, so it was absolutely off the scale.”
Leukemia is a blood cancer. Acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, which is the type of cancer Azalyia has, starts in the bone marrow (the soft inner part of the bones), but usually quickly moves into the blood, according to the American Cancer Society, and can spread to other parts of the body like the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), as in Azaylia’s case. The little girl has a rare, aggressive form of the disease, and sadly, the chemotherapy wasn’t working for her.
Leukemia develops when the body produces large quantities of abnormal white blood cells. Because they’re abnormal, they prevent the bone marrow from producing any other type of cell, namely red blood cells and platelets.
Dr. Nina Shah, a hematologist at University of California San Francisco, explains blood cancers in a simple way. “One cell got really selfish and decided that it needed to take up all the resources of everybody else,” Dr. Shah tells SurvivorNet, “and in doing so, took up space and energy from the rest of the body.”
“In general having a blood cancer means that your bone marrow is not functioning correctly,” she continues. “And when your bone marrow doesn’t function correctly it means that you can have something happen to you like anemia. Or you can have low platelets, which makes it possible for you to bleed easily. Or your immune system is not functioning correctly.”
Azaylia had a stem cell, or bone marrow, transplant in early January and the next step was to try CAR-T therapy from a specialist in Singapore, but tragically, doctors informed the parents recently that they are unable to create a CAR-T therapy for baby Azalyia’s specific case. CAR-T treatment is customized for each patient using their T cells, “which are genetically modified to enhance their ability to recognize and attack cancer cells,” according to the National Cancer Institute.
Over the weekend, the parents brought Azaylia home from their local hospital and then had to take her back due to a nosebleed. She had to have another platelet transfusion, which is a therapy to help stop bleeding. Now, she’s back at home where they are keeping her “comfortable” to enjoy her final days at home rather than a hospital.
“We’re going back home and we’re gonna try and make our baby as comfortable as possible. We’re gonna be strong, and we’re gonna go out with honor,” Cain wrote on Instagram.