I'm heartbroken l’ll never see tragic daughter Azaylia take first steps…but I'm so proud of her legacy, says Ashley Cain | The Sun

I'm heartbroken l’ll never see tragic daughter Azaylia take first steps…but I'm so proud of her legacy, says Ashley Cain | The Sun

July 8, 2023

WHEN Ashley Cain and Safiyya Vorajee revealed their daughter had leukaemia at just eight weeks old, little Azaylia’s plight captured the hearts of the world.

More than £1million was raised in less than 24 hours by well wishers to pay for specialist treatment overseas.

But tragically, they were told she was too sick to treat and she died, aged eight months, in April 2021.

Now the bereaved parents, who are backing The Sun’s Who Cares Wins awards, reveal how the money raised is being ploughed into research, helping to treat other young cancer sufferers.

To date, the total for Azaylia’s GoFundMe page stands at £1.6m, which has been put into the foundation in her name.

Safiyya, 35, tells The Sun: "Setting up the Azaylia Foundation is a way to say thank you to the community which has been there for us, and it's a chance to make a movement."


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The foundation has donated more than £700,000 to research and to families who have a child with cancer.

In its first year, it provided eight children with grants to access specialist private life-saving treatments.

It also made research donations to Oxford University, Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital and The University of Birmingham alongside Birmingham Women and Children’s Hospital.

Ashley and Safiyya, who live in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, have since split but are united in creating a lasting legacy for their daughter.

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The family have not shied away from showing every aspect of Azaylia’s journeyCredit: Instagram
Ashley Cain with his daughter who died of a rare form of leukaemiaCredit: miss_safiyya_/Instagram

They have also been raising awareness in over 100 schools with their 'Wear Orange for Azaylia' day, which doubles as a fundraising event.

Before Azaylia’s death, landmarks around the world lit up in orange to raise awareness of childhood leukaemia.

Ex-Coventry City footballer Ashley, 32, says: “We wanted to set up the Azaylia Foundation because as she inspired us to be better people to want to help in this world.

“She also made us realise that we do have the power to affect so many people's lives in a great and positive way.

"Azaylia is and will always be the most important person in our lives.

Losing Azaylia made us realise that we don't want other children to have to go through what she went through

“Losing her made us realise that we don't want other children to have to go through what she went through. We don’t want the parents to feel what we did.

"Childhood cancer is the number one killer of our children in the UK. These children are our future, and we need to help them.

"We want to honour our daughter and make sure her passing isn’t in vain.”

Safiyya adds: “Azaylia was diagnosed late, and we now know that early diagnosis is needed to get these children through treatment.

“We’re helping fund early research so kids can be diagnosed sooner, and we’re working on fundraising to bring new talent to the UK for 20 PhDs that will help advance research into childhood cancers.”

Azaylia was born on August 10, 2020, and diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia at eight weeks old.

Her parents decided to document her short life, capturing the hearts of the world as she underwent gruelling treatment.

Ashley says: “At first we shared Azaylia’s journey because we needed to find some acceptance of what was happening.

"Once everyone knew, we had to accept it. The diagnosis was nothing for us to be ashamed of.”

Safiyya found sharing her daughter’s journey a way to feel like any other new mum sharing the start of motherhood with her friends and family.

She says: “We wanted to share how brave Azaylia was, how inspirational she was. How she kept us going as parents, and how she kept us smiling every day.

"We were proud to be parents, and we wanted to share that with the whole world.”

A-list supporters

Neither realised how much their daughter's plight would touch millions across the world in the midst of a global pandemic.

A-list stars got in touch, including wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, who told the couple his heart broke for them.

Former Ex on the Beach star Ashley has also dedicated his time to fundraising in his daughter’s memory, from running ultra-marathons to cycling across Europe.

Devastatingly, they were told Azaylia’s treatment hadn’t worked minutes before she was due to ring the all-clear bell.

When the cancer returned, her parents set up an online fundraiser to get Azaylia over to Singapore for treatment, raising more than £1million in less than 24 hours.

But as they were organising it, they were told Azaylia had tumours in her brain, kidneys, liver and spleen, and the overseas treatment could no longer help.

Her parents decided to take her home, so she was more comfortable, and she died two weeks later.

The pair praise NHS medics who tried to save their daughter and urge readers to nominate their own healthcare heroes.

Ashley, who last year took part in Celebrity SAS Who Dares Wins,says: “Without these guys, we couldn't have spent so much time with our beautiful daughter. We couldn't have felt so safe and secure.

“Birmingham’s Children’s Hospital became our second home. It became my safe place and my happy place.

“Until I was in that situation, I never realised how amazing these people are – not just when it comes to the physical care and the physical work they put into our children, but the emotional support that they give us parents.

“These guys work hard, long hours. They are dedicated people. It's something to be admired, and something we were definitely grateful for.

“I want to thank them because they go above and beyond in everything they do. The nurses and medics are the real backbone of the NHS. If you have a health hero that you want to be recognised, please nominate them."

Safiyya adds: “I deeply appreciate all the lengths they went to assisting me as I became a mother.

"There were so many things I didn’t know, and I’d been catapulted into a hospital in the middle of it all.

“They were teaching me things like how to change nappies and to be a medical expert at the same time. They become family to us.

“I was desperate to save my daughter and determined she would do everything they said she wouldn’t.

"I must have been a handful, but they were always there for me. I want to thank them for that.”

Next month marks what would have been Azaylia’s third birthday.

I can't watch Azaylia take steps here on Earth, but this Foundation is like seeing my daughter grow up

While Safiyya won’t see her daughter take her first steps or drop her off for her first day of school, she takes comfort in knowing that she will see the foundation grow and help other families.

She says: “It gives me so much comfort to know that Azaylia has made a difference to these children and families. It makes me emotional.

“I can't watch Azaylia take steps here on Earth, but this Foundation is like seeing my daughter grow up.

“For me and Ashley, receiving news that medicine has helped a child, or the family has received great care from the Azaylia Foundation, is a proud moment – I feel proud of my daughter.

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"When I do my prayers every morning and every night, I tell her she's the most amazing little girl that's ever come to Earth.

“I tell her that I'm so proud of her every single day. For me, it's a reward when I get this news – I'm like, 'Yes, go Azaylia!'"

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