Ashley Cain Supports the Parents of a 5-Year-Old Girl Battling the Same Cancer That Killed Her Baby



Soccer ace Ashley Cain and his girlfriend Safiyya Vorajee have been supporting parents of children battling cancer. The couple’s little girl, Azaylia, died last April.

Ashley Cain's daughter, Azaylia, died last April
Ashley Cain’s daughter, Azaylia, died last April

Footballer Ashley Cain has been offering hope and comfort to the parents of a girl battling cancer that claimed the life of their precious daughter.

Reality star Ashley and her girlfriend Safiyya Vorajee have been supporting dozens of families of sick children since the death of their baby.

Beloved Azaylia passed away last April after a valiant fight against blood cancer, acute myeloid leukemia.

The former Coventry City winger and his partner have now struck up a special friendship with the family of five-year-old Esha Nadeswaran, who has spent eight months battling the same illness at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Esha Nadeswaran has spent eight months battling the same illness at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Her father, Rishya, 45, from Gants Hill, northeast London, said: “Esha is our absolute hero and she is amazing. With our journey, she’s like a never-ending marathon. We don’t know when it’s going to end, so we can’t even control the pace.

“There were days when I went to bed and crawled and cried alone. But no matter how bad your day is and how much it hurts inside, Ashley reminded me to stay positive and happy for your son.

“He told me not to think too much about the future and to do whatever it takes to support Esha. It’s horrible to be told that your child has cancer.

“Listening to Ashley, and how vulnerable she felt, really struck a chord. Our chat has kept me going.”

Former Ex On The Beach star Ashley, 31, and Safiyya, 34, were devastated to lose Azaylia when she was just eight months old.

He had been given a stem cell treatment, which involves replacing damaged cells with healthy ones from a blood-matched donor.

Safiyya and Ashley talking to Esha’s father Rishya on Zoom

Ashley said Azaylia had the heart of a lion and was given precious extra months with her after 100,000 people signed up to be donors.

The couple became involved in the Esha battle after Rishya and his wife Kavitha, 41, appealed to members of the South Asian community to volunteer to be stem cell donors.

Esha has been in the hospital since last May. She has had grueling chemotherapy and, in October, an emergency stem cell transplant. With her parents at her bedside, her constant care includes regular platelet and red blood cell transfusions.

Rishya remembers the day they received the diagnosis. He says: “She had been having stomach problems. The doctors carried out tests and told us that we would receive the results in a fortnight. Two hours after we got home, they called and we knew something was wrong. We ran back and were told that she had an acute form of leukemia. She has been completely heartbreaking.”

Esha’s Sri Lankan heritage meant it was difficult to find a compatible donor and the family launched a social media campaign. Safiyya then extended her hand.

Rishya says, “I set up a Zoom chat with Safiyya and Ashley and talked father to father about what it feels like to be told your child has cancer. He was very emotional.”

Ashley and Safiyya also recorded a video message on Esha’s birthday.

Esha with her sister Ria and her parents

Rishya, who works in banking, says: “Esha liked it very much. She is a very caring little girl and the way she has recovered to defy the doctors is something of a miracle.

“She’s always the one going from room to room cheering on the other kids.”

Rishya and her family now have 10,000 followers on Instagram. But what they haven’t shared are his sacrifices to give her the best possible chance of survival.

Forming a covid bubble, Rishya and his wife have had to live apart from their eldest daughter Ria, 10, who is with her grandparents.

They see her once a week at arm’s length and they were apart at Christmas and on both girls’ birthdays. “It has been very difficult,” says Rishya. “My wife and I take turns staying with Esha. The Young Lives vs Cancer charity has been kind enough to offer accommodation for the other to stay nearby.

“We have been locked in this bubble for months and it is exhausting.”

Ashley and Safiyya have helped dozens of parents. They set up a foundation that raises money for treatments that may not be available on the NHS.

Ashley Cain has participated in a bike ride to raise funds for the Azaylia Foundation


Coventry Live/Bobby Bridge)

He says: “No matter how painful it is, our mission is really to help and fight for these children who are fighting cancer.

“We talk to parents privately and try to guide them through the experience. We know firsthand the stress and trauma parents have to go through.

“Esha’s dad and I talked about appreciating every moment, making sure his son thinks nothing is wrong. You need to stay positive and be the best you can be.

“The pain of losing Azaylia is with us every minute. We go to his resting place every day and I want to keep this pain forever to use it effectively to help other children have a better chance.”

Safiyya adds: “Many children are suffering and we want to help.”

Esha photographed in the hospital

The couple are planning a cycling fundraiser in June alongside the Tour of Cambridgeshire.

Says Ashley, “We would like everyone to dress in orange and create a sea of ​​orange so that Azalyia can look down from the sky and see what an amazing effect she has had on this world.”

To join the cycling event, go to Get updates on Esha at

Deadly disease is rare in young children

Esha has the disease that cost Azaylia her life: acute myeloid leukemia, cancer of the white blood cells.

It starts in the bone marrow and spreads to the bloodstream and is very rare in young children.

The risk increases with age and is more common in people over 75 years of age.

Acute leukemia means that it progresses rapidly and chemotherapy is the main treatment, killing as many diseased cells as possible and reducing the patient’s risk of relapse.

Stem cell therapy involves removing diseased cells from a person and replacing them with healthy cells from a donor.

The new cells travel in the patient’s blood to the bone marrow, where they attach and grow.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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