Shayda Jacqueline was born on January 4, 2011 in Mission Viejo, California. Shayda, whose name means “lovesick” in Farsi, instantly stole the hearts of everyone she came across. She was born the younger sister to her precocious brother Pasha and became the perfect addition to the loving family. As Shayda grew, two things became apparent; First, she had a huge heart and second, she possessed extraordinary strength, and everyone could tell! Through her loving words and kindness of spirit, Shayda warmed the hearts of everyone around her. She always knew what she wanted, and she was going to get it!
Two months into kindergarten, Shayda’s family started to notice alarming physical changes in their precious girl. Never one to complain, Shayda continued to muscle through her school year, ignoring her pain. Shayda’s mother, Sunny, grew concerned with the distention of her daughter’s belly and the shallowness in her face. Based on pure mothers’ intuition, Shayda was taken to the doctor. After an ultrasound and multiple scans, the family’s worst fears were realized. Shayda, the strong-willed Queen (Shayda refuses to be a princess, she decided long ago to out-rank as a QUEEN!) was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. The doctors discovered a Wilms Tumor in Shayda’s kidney. Wilms is a rare form of childhood cancer that is usually diagnosable between the ages of 3-5 years old. A cancer that preys on children specifically, Wilms moves fast and is known for causing wide-spread damage to the kidneys. The family was informed that sweet Shayda would need major emergency surgery to try and remove both the tumor and a kidney, followed by eight months of chemotherapy. As Sunny and the rest of the family struggled to understand what was happening to their Queen, Shayda remained a rock. While sunny struggled for the words to tell her daughter about the diagnosis, Shayda wiped her tears and told her “Everything will be ok Mommy.” How does a parent tell their child that they have to put them through hell to save them? How does a parent sit back and put their baby’s life in the hands of doctor’s they just met?
Through it all, Shayda never lost her smile. She became a fighter and a source of strength and comfort for all those around her. Shayda knew that Queens could never give up. She taught us how to be “Shayda Strong.” Being “Shayda Strong” means staying positive when you know you’re going to be poked with needles and sick for days on end. Being “Shayda Strong” means dancing and singing as you walk into the chemotherapy infusion center at the hospital. It means making crafts and pictures for your family and friends when you’re in the hospital, because you want them to feel loved. It means having FaceTime playdates because your immune system can’t handle being around kids your own age. Being “Shayda Strong” isn’t just a slogan, it’s an attitude!
Our mission is to help encourage children and families who are battling cancer by providing uplifting gifts and care packages to the local children’s hospitals. Along with providing emotional support, advice, education and awareness, a listening ear, and hugs, these small gifts brighten each child’s day. Just a small moment of happiness in an otherwise difficult situation. The money raised from your donations and Shayda Strong fundraisers make these moments possible. We know first-hand the tough road ahead when a child is diagnosed with cancer and we want to ease the journey for others. We are uniting to help other children and their loved ones stay strong and fight cancer.
By reaching out to families dealing with a cancer diagnosis, our goal is to keep young patients' hearts full of love, encouragement and strength for their fight ahead. Packages filled with children’s toys and crafts offer an opportunity to lift spirits. We want parents and siblings to know they are not alone, as the battle against cancer is not fought by one. We stand united to keep the hearts of everyone facing childhood cancer strong. It is our hope to build a support system for young cancer warriors and their families so that they can all be "Shayda Strong!"