Ashley Cain and Safiyya Vorajee on Happy Mum Happy Baby
When you hear stats about how many people will get cancer, you never factor children into the equation. But for Ashley Cain and Safiyya Vorajee it became a harsh reality when their daughter Azaylia Diamond Cain was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia earlier this year. Azaylia captured the hearts of the nation and this family has shown incredible amounts of strength and vulnerability in sharing their story with the world at a time of intense heartache. Azaylia died at just eight months old, but Ashley and Safiyya are launching The Azaylia Foundation in their daughter’s honour to raise awareness of childhood cancer and support other parents of children with cancer. They joined Gi in the studio to celebrate Azaylia’s short but precious life and the huge impact she had that was felt far and wide.
Before speaking about Azaylia’s diagnosis and illness, Ashley and Safiyya reflected on finding out Saf was pregnant. While Saf thought she was unwell, Ashley’s spider senses were tingling and he told her to take a test. Convinced it was going to be negative, she let him look at it first and when he returned from the bathroom euphoric with the positive test result, she didn’t believe him. From there, Saf found pregnancy pretty straightforward, describing herself as a “soldier, a really, really good pregnant person”.
She explained: “It was amazing, incredible, beautiful and kind of scary at the same time because you don’t know what to expect. So many people are telling you “oh you you’re going to feel this, you’re going to do this, labor it’s going to be like this” and you think okay but through pregnancy I feel like I was quite domesticated. I was proper nesting. I’m quite a domesticated, hands-on person anyway but through pregnancy because I knew that we had a baby baby girl coming I had to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.”
A precious gift
On the way to the scan to find out the gender of their baby, Saf remembers seeing a pink balloon float in front of the car. She took it as a sign that they would be having a baby girl – and the scan later confirmed that would be the case. Azaylia arrived into the world a few months later and Ashley remembers meeting her for the first time and not knowing how to treat the precious gift he had been given: “I felt like I was a little kid again and I just remember saying to the nurse is it okay if I kiss her and she said “of course you can it’s your baby” but you know when you’ve got something that precious? I didn’t know how to touch her, I didn’t know how to hold her at that point because I was just – I was overwhelmed”.
Signs of Childhood Cancer
After reflecting on the many good times that the family had together in Azaylia’s early life before she was diagnosed with leukaemia, Gi asked when Ashely and Safiyya became concerned about her health. Saf explained that there were a few things that popped up for them that raised concerns. Saf described seeing a number of things that can be common in babies in isolation, including blood in her nappy, colic, oral thrush, unexplained bruising and a swollen stomach, but when seen together, can be symptoms of childhood cancer.
Ashley explained: “We want to make people aware of the signs and the symptoms of childhood cancer so then parents if they do see something they can catch it early. If they do get turned away from the doctors they can go back in and push for for another opinion or a second opinion because a matter of weeks is crucial, even a matter of days is vital when you’ve got these symptoms and that’s the scary thing. That’s why we want to kind of shine a light on childhood cancer”.
By the time Azaylia was diagnosed, her Leukaemia was very advanced, but the couple were determined to do everything they could to help Azaylia survive. As a strong believer in the energy we give each other, Ashley came up with the concept of Club 100: “After that first couple of hours or that first night I just flicked up and I thought pull yourself together – this isn’t about you this isn’t about us. I thought we cannot take our daughter’s illness away, we cannot cure her but the one thing we can control is the energy around her.
“Now babies are sensory beings they might not be able to understand what we are saying but they can definitely pick up on our energies and our aura so I said to Saff “look, you make a promise to me now – this room, it’s Club 100. Do not let Azaylia see you without a smile on your face, do not let her see you be unhappy”. I said “You want to be unhappy, go out the room but but while we are in here we are 100 every day because we have to give our daughter the best chance of surviving we can possibly give”.
But, unfortunately, despite her treatment, Azaylia Diamond Cain died on 21st April 2021. To celebrate her life, her parents are launching The Azaylia Foundation. Safiyya said: “It gives me chills that she hasn’t gone through all of this for no reason and that we’ve still got Azaylia with us. I feel like for me I am now watching my daughter grow up and to be able to change and help so many people in our community and all the children going forward and make such amazing things happen for children – it’s something that i didn’t ever think would be something that I would be serving purpose for. For me that passion that comes with education and delivering it a full force for Azaylia’s charity is just so so so special and when we’re gone, we want to make sure that her legacy continues and it’s because of her that there’s so much change and awareness”.
For our extended episode with Ashley Cain and Safiyya Vorajee, check out the YouTube video below below, or listen to the episode wherever you usually find your podcasts. We’re in all of the regular places. Check out all other episodes of Happy Mum Happy Baby here.