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Ashley Cain and Safiyya Vorajee celebrate the first anniversary of baby Azaylia’s tragic death

Azaylia survived two rounds of chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant and was due to fly to Singapore for specialist treatment before it became clear the cancer had progressed too far. She died in her parents’ arms at their home in Coventry.

Ashley Cain and Safiyya Vorajee
Ashley Cain and Safiyya Vorajee celebrate the first anniversary of their baby daughter Azaylia’s death

Tomorrow, former soccer players Ashley Cain and Safiyya Vorajee should be watching their daughter Azaylia as she takes shaky steps and plays with her favorite toy. Instead, they will spend the day at her grave to celebrate the first anniversary of her death.

“Although we usually try to celebrate their lives, this day will be sad,” says Safiyya, 34. “We will make the day as special and beautiful as possible. We will release three doves to represent Mom, Dad and Azaylia and we will gather the family at their resting place, shed a few tears and say our prayers.”

Although the couple only announced the end of their relationship a few weeks ago, they are as close as ever when it comes to their daughter and the foundation they started in her memory.

Ashley, 31, will mark the anniversary with a 100-mile run from his daughter’s grave to Trafalgar Square, where he will take a moment to sit at the feet of the giant stone lions and cling to his ‘Likkle lions’ to remember – his pet name for his baby daughter, who died at the age of eight months from acute myeloid leukemia (AML), an aggressive form of leukaemia.







Azaylia lost her life to acute myeloid leukemia at the age of eight months
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Picture:

Ashley Cain/Instagram)







Ashley and Safiyya shared their daughter’s illness on social media
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Picture:

handout)

Azaylia survived two rounds of chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant and was due to fly to Singapore for specialist treatment before it became clear the cancer had progressed too far. She died in her parents’ arms at their home in Coventry.

“Those eight months, while tough and heartbreaking, were the best eight months of our lives,” says Ashley.

“We can look back and know that we gave absolutely everything. I would give the rest of my life just to have those eight months again.”

While caring for her, Ashley and Safiyya shared their daughter’s illness on social media, posting their time in the hospital daily.

Due to Covid restrictions, they were often alone with her on the ward and timed their visits so she was never alone.

While some might question this public sharing of every parent’s worst nightmare, the couple has no regrets. “I believe that most of the time you use social media to showcase the best part of your life, what you’re proud of, things you enjoy, things you think are amazing to the whole world. And there was nothing more amazing than Azaylia,” says Ashley.







Unfortunately, Azaylia became too ill for further treatment
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Picture:

Ashley Cain/Instagram)






Ashley will celebrate the anniversary with a 100 mile run from his daughter’s grave to Trafalgar Square

Their constant chorus of “Let’s go champ!” as they hustled their little daughter through her latest treatment or celebrated her baby’s milestones, such as smiling, sitting up, or starting solid food for the first time, has been garnered worldwide attention repeated to her followers, who offered an abundance of love and support.

But it didn’t stop there. When Azaylia urgently needed a bone marrow donor, Ashley and Safiyya launched an appeal that resulted in 41,000 people registering as stem cell donors in just 48 hours. They also managed to raise over £1.5million for specialist treatment in Singapore.

Unfortunately, Azaylia became too ill for further treatment, so Ashley and Safiyya used the funds to start the Azaylia Foundation (theazayliafoundation.com), dedicated to raising awareness and improving the treatment of childhood cancer.

The foundation, set up last September, has already helped several children raise money for treatments not available on the NHS, as well as buying equipment for Birmingham Children’s Hospital and donating funds to the city’s university for a cell sorting machine.

“Azaylia created a tremendous awareness,” says Safiyya. “But if we don’t talk about it further, it will remain in the dark. That is why we will continue to fight for these children.”

“Our goal is to revolutionize childhood cancer,” says Ashley. “The goal is to advance the available early detection and treatment. We also want to train GPs who are not trained to diagnose cancer in children early enough. And we want to develop specific therapies for children. They often receive adapted versions of adult treatments that can have very traumatic effects on the child’s body.”

Ashley and Safiyya’s public openness about their loss and grief has not only created a legacy for their daughter, but also paved the way for others to express their own.

“So many men would come up to me on the street or in a store just to hug me and cry,” says Ashley. “The other day a guy pulled me over and said, ‘My daughter just comes into Birmingham Children’s Hospital with leukaemia. I want to thank you for allowing men and fathers to show their feelings and not be afraid of it.'”

While Ashley is open about his grief, he admits it’s still hard for men to open up. “I want people to realize that it’s okay not to be okay as long as you’re willing to acknowledge it and do something about it,” says Ashley. “That’s why it’s so important that I not only show the good days, but also the bad days. The first way to recover is to acknowledge it, and then you can start dealing with it and moving past the pain.

Although Azaylia only spent eight months in the world, it’s clear that she changed her parents’ lives forever.

“Azaylia made me want to be a woman from the moment I had her,” says Safiyya.

“I feel like I’ve evolved so much. I have time, patience and empathy for so much more in life than before.”

“She showed me what I’m capable of and how to appreciate it
the things that matter,” says Ashley. “Now she’s not here with us, she is
to be the driving force for me
best person i can be for me and for her.

“That fight with Azaylia made us realize how strong these kids are who are battling cancer. Now I want to fight for her legacy and make her proud of me.”

  • Loving and Losing You, Azaylia: My Inspirational Daughter and our Unbreakable Bond by Safiyya Vorajee (£20, Ebury) is out 28 April

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/ashley-cain-safiyya-vorajee-mark-26780282 Ashley Cain and Safiyya Vorajee celebrate the first anniversary of baby Azaylia's tragic death

Fry Electronics Team

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