Ashley Cain has told how he believes his late daughter Azaylia will be watching over him on his 1,000 mile bike ride across the country following her death from leukemia.
The Ex On The Beach star, 30, and his girlfriend Safiyya Vorajee, 33, have created The Azaylia Foundation in honour of their daughter and Ashley is now biking from Cornwall to northern Scotland to raise funds for children’s cancer research.
Speaking on Sky News on Wednesday, he said: ‘We’re going to take Azaylia from north to south, east to west.
Emotional: Ashley Cain has told how he believes his late daughter Azaylia will be watching over him on his 1,000 mile bike ride across the country (pictured with his brother Matty)
‘My journey with Azaylia was confined to a hospital room and this is my chance to be outside and be one with the sky where I believe she’s watching down on me and take her on a real journey now.’
Ashley, who was joined by his brother Matty, told how he will be biking from Land’s End in Cornwall to John o’Groats in Scotland.
He explained: ‘We really want it to be tough we don’t want it to be an easy ride. We want to go through some pain and endure a difficult journey. We wanted to do something so we weren’t just putting our hands out and asking for money.’
During the interview, Ashley recounted his daughter’s battle with acute myeloid leukemia.
Heartbreaking: The Ex On The Beach star, 30, and his girlfriend Safiyya Vorajee, 33, have created The Azaylia Foundation in honour of their daughter
He said: ‘We were really blessed to have the most incredible baby girl Azaylia. Eight weeks in to being a father I found out she had leukemia, a very severe case of AMR leukemia.
‘It thrust us into a devastating six months. We were in hospital for six months by ourselves during Covid while she was battling a tough fight. During that journey we realised that childhood cancer isn’t rare.
‘Treatment is severely needed to help these children and give them the best chance they can of surviving. Azaylia has highlighted to the world how strong these children are.
He added: ‘This journey is always about Azaylia and helping out these children. Only around two per cent of cancer research funding gets dedicated to the kids.
‘With The Azaylia Foundation, we want to help these parents financially. It’s something that means more to me than the air in my lungs and I’ll do anything I can for the rest of my life to help these children.’
Ashley said: ‘My journey with Azaylia was confine to a hospital room and this is my chance to be outside and be one with the sky where I believe she’s watching down on me and take her on a real journey now’
Matty also praised his brother for all he has done since Azaylia’s passing, saying: ‘He’s been amazing, how he’s dealt with the loss of Azaylia. He’s inspired me as a father and millions around the world.’
Ashley added: ‘Without my brother, we wouldn’t be here now. He’s been a rock. We’re going to stick by each other on this ride.
‘Being able to spot the telltale signs could really be the difference in how your child gets on battling this illness.’
Ashley and Safiyya hope that setting up their new foundation will allow them to educate others and bring ‘light in the darkest moments’ for children like Azaylia.
It comes after revealed there were no ‘telltale’ signs of their daughter Azaylia’s leukemia during an appearance on Lorraine on Tuesday.
Ashley added: ‘We really want it to be tough we don’t want it to be an easy ride. We want to go through some pain and endure a difficult journey’
Safiyya said to fill-in host Christine Lampard: ‘So I believe our early signs were her stomach getting hard, vomiting, bruising, diarrhea, all these kinds of symptoms.’
Ashley added: ‘They were symptoms that you would think as a first-time parent that you would typically find in a baby. There was nothing really at that point to highlight the severity of what it actually was.
‘Like Safiyya said it was a hard stomach so it could be things like constipation or colic, things like a stuffed nose, so there wasn’t really a telltale sign at the time that it was leukemia.
‘I think that’s what we’ve tried to do the whole journey and going forward now, we want to raise awareness so that not only new parents but other parents – I don’t wish it upon anybody – that could find themselves in the situation can be aware so they can be proactive rather than reactive.
Ashley also said: ‘Treatment is severely needed to help these children and give them the best chance they can of surviving. Azaylia has highlighted to the world how strong these children are’ (pictured with his girlfriend Safiyya Vorajee)
Earlier this year, Ashley and Safiyya took to social media to raise money to take Azaylia to Singapore for CAR-T therapy, as it was the only viable option left after treatment in the UK wasn’t effective.
After raising £1million in a matter of hours, they received the heartbreaking news that doctors had discovered more tumours in her body and brain, meaning she was no longer able to travel abroad for the emergency treatment.
Speaking to Chirstine, Ashley praised his social media followers for their donations and unwavering support as he remembered the moment they received the devastating update.
‘Azaylia is the strongest person I know,’ he said. ‘She overcame every obstacle or hurdle on that journey, she got through her stem cell transplant and right at the end there was just nothing else they could do in this country and that’s why he had to raise that amount of money to try and go to Singapore.
Launch: The couple launched The Azaylia Foundation to help other parents understand how to cope with it and how to deal with the symptoms that come with it
‘We are so grateful to the public, we like to call them our second family now because they’ve been such a fundamental part of the journey. Not just raising the money, but the day-to-day support and especially in this day and age, especially over the last couple of years.
‘You see how cynical social media can be but during our journey it really showed how beautiful the world is and the people that are in it.’
He continued: ‘We needed to raise the money to go to Singapore as it was our only option. We sadly found out a day after we’d raised the money that we could no longer go because they’d found more tumours in her brain and in her body it was devastating’.
The Lorraine appearance comes after both Ashley and Safiyya posted emotional tributes to their daughter Azaylia on her first birthday earlier this month.
‘There was nothing to highlight the severity’: Ashley and Safiyya revealed there were no ‘telltale’ signs of their daughter Azaylia’s leukemia during an appearance on Lorraine
Azaylia sadly lost her life on April 25th at just eight months old following a courageous battle with acute myeloid leukemia.
Alongside a montage of pictures, Safiyya penned: ‘Heavenly 1st birthday. Today we celebrate Azaylias 1st birthday with heavy hearts.
‘I asked myself how will I cope with this day what shall I do with incredible amounts of pain in my heart…. And decided…
‘I will speak of how Azaylia is an inspiration, how brave she shown she was to the universe, what courageous is, & how she’s changed our life’s in many ways we would never of imagined. we will celebrate Azaylias 1st birthday & she can enjoy it with us.
‘Myself & Ashley was blessed this time 1 year ago with our baby girl. Azaylia Diamind Cain 06:56 -7pound 10oz
What are the symptoms of leukaemia in children?
Fatigue and pale skin – this is because leukaemia can cause anaemia which makes a child feel weak, tired and light-headed.
Infections and fever – children with leukaemia lack normal white blood cells which would normally help fight infection.
Rash – children may have small, dark spots that look like common rashes if the leukemia cells spread to the skin
Easy bruising or bleeding – this includes frequent nosebleeds, bleeding gums and bleeding a lot from small cuts.
Bone or joint pain – this is caused by a build up of leukaemia cells near the surface of the bone or inside the joint.
Swelling of the abdomen – leukaemia cells may collect in the liver and spleen causing them to enlarge.
Loss of appetite and weight loss – if the spleen and liver swell, they can press against the stomach causing loss of appetite.
Swollen lymph nodes – some leukaemias spread to the lymph nodes causing them to swell.
Source: American Cancer Society
‘To have given birth to the strongest baby girl to have blessed this earth & have an incredible partner by my side my family had just started 10/08/2020 best day of my life.’ [sic]
Discussing her unimaginable grief, Safiyya continued: ‘A year later I celebrate your 1st birthday as you watch us from heaven, enjoy it in paradise baby dance & shine bright.
‘My memories will live and stay with me forever there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think of you princess & I will continue your legacy speak your name and make you proud Azaylia. We will celebrate every birthday with you always.❤️
‘Today is also international lion day this isn’t coincidental the law of attraction collides the energy & the universe this is powerful like Azaylia, this journey will all make sense in the end we will be together for eternity.’ [sic[
Heartbreaking: The Lorraine appearance comes after both Ashley and Safiyya posted emotional tributes to their daughter Azaylia on her first birthday earlier this month
Safiyya then called on her followers to join her and Ashley in releasing balloons at 7pm to mark their daughter’s birthday.
Ashley also shared a heartbreaking tribute alongside a collage of images as he penned: ‘Happy Heavenly 1st Birthday Azaylia Diamond Cain – You’re not only my daughter, you’re my best friend, my guardian Angel, my inspiration and my true hero.
‘You brought love, happiness and hope to not only your family, but an entire world who was locked up and locked down. A true inspiration that showed people they can be strong, brave and fight through anything life throws at them… And do it all with a smile on their face!’ [sic]
He continued: ‘You were a special baby, you are now a special angel and you will always be my special little girl!
Beautiful words: Safiyaa penned a heartbreaking tribute to her baby girl in which she called on her followers to join her and Ashley in releasing balloons at 7pm to mark Azaylia’s birthday
‘Until we are reunited again my baby, I love you more than life itself and I miss you so much that it hurts. Happy Heavenly 1st Birthday Champ.’ [sic]
He added the hashtags ‘#AzayliaDiamondCain #MyHero #DaddysGirl’. [ic]
For help and support caring for children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions, please contact Together for Short Lives on 0808 8088 100 or visit www.togetherforshortlives.org.uk
If you have been affected by the death of a baby please call Sands on 0808 164 3332 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Doting dad: Ashley also shared a heartbreaking tribute alongside a collage of images
A timeline of Azaylia’s six-month leukaemia battle
October 2020: Ashley emotionally revealed his daughter had been diagnosed with a ‘rare and aggressive’ form of leukaemia, which he described as an ‘uphill battle’.
Heartbreaking: Ashley emotionally revealed his daughter had been diagnosed with a ‘rare and aggressive’ form of leukaemia in October
Azaylia was turned away by doctors three times and prescribed laxatives and a nasal spray when her breathing was impeded, shortly before her diagnosis.
By the end of the month, the brave child faced her second surgery and 16th chemotherapy-related treatment in less than two weeks.
November 2020: Azaylia’s hair started to fall out just weeks after she was diagnosed.
Doctors informed Ashley and his family that the tot needed a bone marrow transplant and blood donation.
Due to her Caribbean, Burmese, Indian and English background, the footballer said it was very difficult to find a match for a transplant.
Azaylia was brought home for a few days before her second round of chemotherapy.
December 2020: 80,000 people became stem cell donors 48 hours after Ashley appealed for the public’s help.
So sad: Azaylia’s hair started to fall out just weeks after she was diagnosed in November
January 2021: The TV star confirmed a stem cell donor had been found for his baby daughter Azaylia.
She received her stem cell transplant but her cancer sadly returned following a third round of chemotherapy.
February 2021: Azaylia responded well to her stem cell treatment and doctors were impressed with ‘how strong she was’.
She underwent further surgery to discover whether her leukaemia had gone. Later in the month, doctors revealed her cancer had returned.
March 2021: They were told there were ‘very few options’ to help the baby’s condition before she had another bone marrow test. She relapsed by the end of the month and underwent her fourth round of chemotherapy.
Ashley surpassed his target goal of £1million after he set up a GoFundMe to pay for life-saving treatment for his daughter Azaylia.
Heartbreaking: Healthcare professionals revealed Azaylia only had a few days to live as they discovered tumours all over her body in April
The former Ex On The Beach star took to social media to ask fans for help in donating, explaining the treatment his daughter needed is available in Singapore.
Ashley described the treatment, CAR-T therapy, as ‘the only option to save Azaylia’s life’ and said he and partner Safiyya may have to fly out in a matter of weeks, adding it will take a minimum of one year.
Celebrities such as former TOWIE star Kate Ferdinand, Love Island’s Molly-Mae Hague and PrettyLittleThing founder Umar Kamani all donated.
Despite efforts from around the world, pharmaceutical companies could not release the life-saving drugs needed to beat his daughter Azaylia’s battle.
Tender moments: Her parents bathed her in the hospital for a final time before they returned home later that month
April 2020: Healthcare professionals revealed Azaylia only had a few days to live as they discovered tumours in her stomach, her spleen, her liver and her kidneys, in addition to tumours in her brain.
Her parents bathed her in the hospital for a final time before they returned home.
They marked her turning eight months old by having moulds made of her feet, and Azaylia was met with support from the London Underground and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
She received life-prolonging transfusion after her condition caused profuse bleeding and public figures joined the nationwide clap held in her honour.
Scary: The influencer’s ‘fragile’ daughter stopped breathing and suffered seizures before Ashley confirmed her death
Azaylia was nominated for a Pride of Britain award and had a plane draw a heart in the sky for her.
The tot was put on oxygen to aid her sleep, and struggled to open her eyes due to swelling.
Scam artists set up fake Facebook pages in her name, with Ashley admitting: ‘We feel really sad it has come to this’.
Azaylia returned to hospital for another platelet transfusion a few days before she died.
The influencer’s ‘fragile’ daughter stopped breathing and suffered seizures before Ashley confirmed her death.