Finding Lyla’s Smile

Before cancer, Lyla was like any other young girl. She loved puzzles, baking, painting and reading books about her favorite characters. But the trajectory of her life changed when she became increasingly sick.

“If you had asked me two years ago to describe my family, I would have said we were the typical Washington family with two kids who loved the outdoors and getting away to the waterfalls and beaches. But in the summer of 2017, we enjoyed no hikes or sandy treks. Our four-year-old daughter, Lyla, was diagnosed with a Wilms tumor,” said Lyla’s mother, Yerey.

She Needs Chemo to Treat the Cancer

Yerey recalls the details leading to her daughter’s diagnosis. “She would have a fever and upset stomach for a day or two, then be fine for a few days and then become ill again. It was happening so often that I began to get concerned. One night, she was sick to the point of throwing up constantly and had so much pain in her stomach that she couldn’t walk. We rushed her to the emergency room where they ruled out appendicitis, but she was still in severe pain. We agreed to have a CT scan done, and that’s when they found the tumors on her kidneys.

At first, we didn’t even understand she had cancer. We were simply told she had a tumor. The doctor at Randall mentioned chemotherapy, and I remember asking why she would need chemo. At that point, the doctor said, ‘to treat the cancer.’

I remember feeling suddenly overwhelmed and confused. My mind was on repeat, ‘she needs chemo to treat the cancer, she needs chemo to treat the cancer.’ Lyla began treatment right away, and suddenly we were a family with cancer in our lives. It became part of our routine, and everything else was put on hold.”

Only Music Could Make Her Smile

For Lyla, constant testing and new treatments became the norm. The hospital routine became the family’s only routine. Through it all, Lyla faced her situation with bravery, but there were times when nothing except music could make her smile.

“Lyla was in the PICU following surgery, and nothing we did or said could make her smile until MyMusicRx visited. When they began singing to her, she got a huge smile on her face; she was so happy. When she got out of the PICU, she looked forward to having someone come by to sing with her.”

After her first introduction to MyMusicRx, Lyla requested songs from her favorite Disney movies. Each song encouraged a shy smile to light up her face. She even participated in MyMusicRx’s annual Bedstock music festival performing “Beauty and the Beast.”

The Joy Effect

Months of treatment came and went – punctuated with moments of joy. Along with more music jam sessions, Lyla’s family benefitted from CCA’s Link program, Joy for the Holidays. She tagged along for fun family excursions outside the hospital and was named a 2018 Hero. CCA Heroes are nominated for their outstanding heroism in the face of serious illness.

Lyla also loved her time with Chemo Pal, Wendy. Wendy knew just how to make Lyla’s day better and even Lyla’s brother enjoyed the company of a Chemo Pal.

“At first I was shocked to learn that someone was willing to be with us during such a difficult time. Wendy made Lyla smile and gave her something to look forward to at every visit. CCA did a great job matching Lyla to her, and we have a friend for life now.”

Lyla’s treatment lasted nine long months and there are families whose cancer journeys are far longer. Thanks to the generosity of donors like you who have supported CCA in the past, families similar to Lyla’s have been able to uncover joy and celebrate life amid uncertainty and stress.

Please consider making a donation today. If you are a first-time donor, or choose to support CCA’s joy-based programs as a monthly donor, your gifts will be matched – all year – doubling your impact. Thank you!

Join in on the Joy for February!