"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 his Instagram.
Published Apr 9, 2021
Reality star Ashley Cain from MTV’s The Challenge and his wife, Safiyya Vorajee, 33, are going through the most painful experience that life can bring; their 8-month-old daughter Azaylia has leukemia and has days to live, according to a heartbreaking Instagram video update from the baby girl’s parents.
“Last week, we had the bone marrow test and the lumber puncture and bloods taken to send to Singapore in the hope that they could create a CAR-T therapy to save Azaylia’s life,” the former soccer player says in his video. “Then, we had to have a CT scan on her head and the results came back the next day, saying that Azaylia’s got two very big tumors … on her brain.” Leukemia is a type of blood cancer, and Azaylia is battling a “rare and aggressive form” of the disease.
The English TV personality went on to explain that the treatment that is usually given to treat leukemia in the brain or spine is not viable because there’s just “too much pressure” in her head. Their doctors in Singapore say that they “can’t create a CAR-T” for her leukemia, and the devastated father relayed that going through a spinal tap (which removes and examines spinal fluid) would kill her. According to the National Cancer Institute, 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.”
In March, the couple, who have been married since 2019, wrote that after long discussions and a global outreach for treatment, their consultants around the world were in agreement “that the only option to save Azaylia’s life is to fly to Singapore for CAR-T therapy plus a haplo transplant, for a minimum period of 1 year.” A haploidentical transplant is a partially-matched stem cell transplant typically from a family member.
Baby Azaylia had a traditional stem cell transplant in early January.
Late last month, they had described the urgency of the situation, and explained that the treatment would cost over “1 million pounds with an initial deposit of £500,000 just to be accepted into the hospital and onto the program.” 1 million pounds is roughly $1.4 million dollars. The couple raised the funds in less than 24 hours, according to their GoFundMe. Unfortunately, the plan to save their daughter’s life in Singapore is no longer possible.
“She’s had a tough, tough life. From eight weeks old she’d been in hospital having chemotherapy, operations, transplants,” Cain wrote. “And I feel like for the last part of her life, I just want to take her home, see her like a baby and give her the best rest of her life that we can give her.”
“So, that means we’re going back home,” he says. “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.”
In a post earlier today, Cain describes his little girl’s strength. “9 days ago consultants told us my daughter had 1-2 days to live, but thought she may pass that evening,” he wrote. “Even with a barbaric disease consuming her blood, tumours in her brain and organs and amounts of pain I cannot imagine… She is still battling through 9 days later, with parts of the day with nothing but smiles despite her discomfort.” Sadly, battling disease is all she knows. Hopefully the couple can find some comfort in spending this time with their daughter at this stage of her battle.
Leukemia is a blood cancer. Acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, 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), which is what happened to little Azaylia.
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, 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.”
What is a Blood Cancer – How is it Different?