Skye Savren-McCormick is the definition of a fighter. Diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when she was less than one year old, the tiny toddler has been battling the disease her entire life.
Doctors diagnosed Skye with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JML), a rare kind of chronic blood disorder that occurs in young children. “Leukaemia means a cancer of the blood forming system,” Cancer Research UK explains. “The blood-forming system is the bone marrow— the soft inner part of your bones.”
Following Skye’s diagnosis, the little girl underwent round after round of chemotherapy. At one point, she even had to spend ten months in the hospital as a result of treatment complications.
As a chronic condition, the only cure for JML is a bone marrow transplant. Luckily, Skye would soon find her donor in the form of Hayden Hatfield Ryals.
Ryals, 26, had signed up to become a bone marrow donor during a confusing time in her life. She had just switched majors in college and found herself lacking purpose in day-to-day things. For the next twelve months, the young woman felt this sense of purposelessness— until she was matched with Skye.
“That changed everything,” the young woman told CNN.
“It became my number-one priority from that point on.”
Ryals donated her bone marrow to Skye, but because the process was anonymous, the two never met.
For Skye, things got much worse before they got better. After the transplant, the little girl developed a second form of cancer— lymphoproliferative disorder. The condition is rare, occurring in only 1% of transplant recipients. But sadly, for little Skye, things were starting to look bleak. During the toddler’s battle, however, her parents received a letter.
Ryals had contacted the family through Be The Match, the non-profit organization through which she had donated the bone marrow to Skye.
Ryals told Skye’s family about her story and how helping their daughter had given her a sense of purpose. The two parties began a prolonged correspondence, and, eventually, both sides told the organization they wanted to get in touch directly.
Ryals is from Alabama while Skye and her family are from Florida. So, in the beginning, everything was done through phone calls, e-mail, and texts.
“[Sky] is a fighter, and she is full of spunk, and she just has the best attitude,” Ryals told CNN.
“I think everybody could learn something from this 3-year-old.”
On Skye’s birthday, Ryals sent the girl a birthday present along with a request asking if Skye would be the flower girl in her wedding.
“We were really taken aback by how sweet it was,” Talia, Skye’s mother, said. However, Skye was on oxygen at the time, and the family just didn’t think it was feasible. Later, when the toddler’s health improved, doctors gave her the A-OK.
Skye met Ryals for the first time at the wedding rehearsal, and they developed an instant bond.
“We were in front, looking around, and she [Ryals] came in and immediately came over to Skye and dropped to her knees,” Talia told CNN.
“Skye gave her a big hug. The whole night hey were sitting together.”
“It was so sweet. It was like they were in love.”
When Skye, who is now in remission, walked down the aisle dropping flowers— guests at the ceremony couldn’t keep it together.
Wedding photographer Jeannie Broadway said:
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. You could even hear sobs from people.”
Although Skye is too little to understand the gift Ryals has given her, Talia says the toddler knows the woman is someone special to her.
“I look forward to the years to come with Skye growing up and continuing this relationship with Hayden, and watching Hayden grow up too,” the mother said.
Ryals notes,”I’ve never once seen it as me helping [Skye], because I was honored to do it, and it was a privilege for me to get to do it.”
“In my eyes, she’s the one that saved me.”
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Source: CNNnews via Tout