3-Year-Old Survives Cancer, Then Gets Chance of Her Lifetime

Cancer is a horrible disease that affects people we care about. It causes frustration, fear sadness and even anger when we hear about a friend, family member or loved one that has been diagnosed with any type of cancer. We cry, we hug, and we ultimately band together to support each other and stay strong. We run races to support the cure, we donate any spare money we have, and we wear colored ribbons as a way of showing our commitment and solidarity. We do it because it is an act of love and selflessness. We also do it to inspire and uplift cancer victims; the combination of a positive attitude and tough-as-nails drive can be life-sustaining, and we want our loved ones to think they can beat the disease and outlast anything.

Meet little miss Skye Savren-McCormick. She's three. She's adorable. Like many little girls her age, she loves Frozen and Trolls. She also loves to dress in cute clothes and smile big! Skye has two parents, Todd and Talia, that love her very much, and a family that stands behind her, no matter what. This little girl has the fighting power worthy of Muhammad Ali or Evander Holyfield. You will be amazed at what this little lady did! In this story, we will review just what she had to go through to get where she is today. She’s gonna steal your heart, so look out!

A Blessed Beginning

As you can see here, little Skye has been surrounded by love from the day she was born in 2015. Her mom, Talia, and dad, Kevin, were thrilled to become parents. Talia, a former member of an improv company and a third-grade teacher in the Ventura California school system, in particular, was all smiles, posting photos that capture her beaming at her adorable daughter.

Skye’s the Limit!

Mommy and baby Skye were truly all smiles for much of the time. At the beach, on the boardwalk, at home during messy dinners, Skye was a cuteness machine to both Talia and Kevin and to complete strangers. But over their first year together, there were warning signs that Skye was not in perfect health. Her body would bruise easily. And she fell sick frequently, coming down with fevers. In moments like these, the camera was put away. The smiles that would come so easily when Skye was feeling well vanished as the parents grew concerned about their beautiful daughter’s welfare.

Leukemia - A Brief Overview

Frightened and worried, Talia and Kevin took Skye to the pediatrician. More appointments were made. Their daughter had an enlarged spleen. Blood tests were taken and she was found to have low blood platelets—the cells that promote clotting to stop bleeding. After nearly a year, doctors finally conducted a bone marrow biopsy.

A Birthday Nightmare

The results came in just four days before the family was ready to celebrate Skye turning a year old. The news was terrifying—Skye had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. So rare, in fact, that only one child in a million gets this dangerous disease. In general, leukemia is a kind of cancer which affects your body’s white blood cells. The white blood cells then multiply in a way that is not normal, which means they interfere with your body’s capability of functioning in a healthy way. The pin-point bruises-called petechiae‚ that would disappear and then return on Skye’s body and the fevers and illness that Skye suffered were all symptoms a larger issue—a killer disease with a terrifyingly low survival rate.

Diagnosis of Leukemia

It is important we discuss leukemia and give you a brief overview so that we can appreciate the fight that Skye and her parents put up against this cancer. Skye was diagnosed with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, and underwent tests, like a total blood count, blood chemistries, kidney and liver tests. Skye’s blood cells had to be examined under a microscope to make sure they look and acted normally. As you can see, science is hard at work to keep young children suspected of having leukemia safe. Her doctors were doing their best, and her parents prayed.

Treating Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia

Scientist and medical experts don’t know the exact cause of Leukemia, but according to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, this killer disease seems to arise from a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as exposure to certain chemicals, such as benzene, or smoking. While the precise cause is unknown, the key factor in the development of leukemia is that blood cells acquire mutations in their DNA—the code that controls how each cell functions. These abnormal mutations cause blood cells to grow and divide and live beyond a normal life cycle. Eventually, the faulty cells crowd out healthy blood cells in the bone marrow. The lack of healthy white blood cells—the body’s primary infection fighters—and the overproduction of malfunctioning blood cells is a lethal combination.

Battling the Lethal Disease

Skye had to undergo Chemotherapy, which is the use of powerful medicines to destroy cancer cells. Skye and her parents soon learned that with Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia, a bone marrow transplant is often required. The process is even more complicated than chemotherapy. It involves killing the cancer cells and working immune system cells—which can leave the body defenseless—along with normal bone marrow. Then, healthy donor bone marrow provided by a donor is introduced into the body. Doctors hoped that these new cells would help rebuild Skye’s immune system and develop an entirely new, dependable supply of blood cells that would divide and replicate in a normal fashion. Researchers continue to study and make advances in treatments so that one day we may be able to have a world that is cancer free.

A Rare Cancer

This type of cancer is rare, and the cause is unknown. It can take months or even years to develop. It occurs when bone marrow production of white blood cells become intensely dysregulated. it ultimately leads to infections, anemia, and bleeding. Can you believe she was up against all this? But Skye and her parents were not about to give up hope. They would continue to fight, and Skye would continue to smile her way through the pain. They continued to battle, as they knew that giving up was not an option. With strong hope and faith, they forged ahead.

How She Got Treatment

The toddler from Ventura, California was in the hospital for 10 months because of complications with her specialized treatment. She required seven rounds of chemotherapy for leukemia and lymphoma. Doctors had no choice but to remove her swollen spleen. Blood and platelet transfusions took place nearly every day, as a result of her bone marrow not making enough properly functioning blood cells. In the end, the girl nurses dubbed “Warrior” Skye received 77 units of blood and platelets.

Nerves of Steel

Most draining of all all, though were the three grueling, hours-long bone-marrow transplants that Skye endured. Those operations were the most nerve-wracking and crucial—not just because they were physically taxing, but because Skye’s future relied on their success. Without the transplanted new marrow—red and yellow gelatinous tissue generating healthy cells, Skye was doomed to to succumb to cancer.

Would the Treatments Work?

Through all these procedures, Talia and Kevin tried to stay strong for each other and for their daughter. It was hell. Skye was being pushed to the limit physically, and her parents were worried, stressed out and simply tired. They wanted the best for their little one, and couldn’t bear to see her in such pain. Skye was a tough, tiny trooper, but the question remained: Could their little fighter survive? Would the transplants work? Only time would tell for the family.

What She Needed

Skye needed a bone marrow transplant. She needed it fast! With this type cancer, bone marrow makes immature white blood cells. These cells grow too rapidly and reproduce when they run out of space, leading to the ousting of healthy bone marrow cells. The search was on for the perfect donor to provide to provide Skye with the bone marrow she needed to pull through, and begin the process of making a healthy blood supply. It is very tough to find the right match, but they didn’t flinch. Who would be the special one to give Skye the life force she needed?

A Matter of Time

Skye's doctors had given her a 10% chance of living. This is why she needed that bone marrow transplant-so that she could thrive and be a happy, healthy little girl. Her parents refused to believe that this special angel they had been blessed with would go back to the sky. The hunt continued for the special one who would give her the special bone marrow she needed. Little did the family know that good news was just around the corner. All their praying, hard work, hope and faith would pay off. An angel on the earth was going to appear.

A Hero Comes Along

Now, meet the real-life angel! Her name is Hayden Hatfield Ryals. Sometimes, when we feel lost and confused, we need to look to others for the answer, and to help us fulfill our purpose. That's just what Hayden did. In a single instant, she made a decision to lend a helping hand to someone in need, someone she had never heard of or even imagined. A little girl nearly two thousand miles away named Skye.

A Great Decision

In April of 2015, Hayden Hatfield Ryals was a struggling college student at Auburn University in Alabama. At the time, she lacked direction and a purpose in life. She was unsure of her career track and she decided to change her major. Anyone who has ever been in college, or young for that matter, knows how hard it is to decide what it is you want to do with your life. One day as she walked through campus, she saw a sign that would not only change her life but the lives others thousands of miles away.

A Moment of Inspiration

Hayden noticed a sign proclaiming “Be The Match”—the phrase was the name of the National Marrow Donor Program, which is the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world. The sign and the program caught Hayden’s attention. She thought the program was a terrific idea and a simple, easy, painless way to possibly help those in need. All the donor program required was her contact information and a simple cheek swab to see if her DNA might be a potential match for someone in need of bone marrow. She immediately signed up! Hayden never thought for a second her sample would lead to a life-saving match, and signing up didn’t solve her larger issues, but it did make her feel like she was contributing to the greater good of the world.

Her Purpose in Life

Only a year after Hayden Hatfield Ryals signed up, she received a phone call out of the blue with some shocking news. Her DNA had been matched with none other than Skye Savren-McCormick. The match was life changing for Hayden, as well as—obviously!—little Skye. Hayden was stunned. “After processing what I had found out, without hesitation I knew that this is what I was meant to do,” Hayden says. “God chose me to help this girl, and He knew that it was my calling,”

A New Outlook

The ability to help someone else can make you feel warm and fuzzy inside and give you serious fulfillment. Everything had changed for Hayden. She knew she had found the purpose she was searching for. And all it took was for her to send in a cheek swab so that she could be matched with someone who could use her marrow. She was going to change a life. “I had been in a low place in life, and felt this was my opportunity to have a purpose,” said the rejuvenated college student.

An Anonymous Gift

Hayden was referred to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blood and Marrow Transplantation and Cell Therapy Program. There, doctors prepared her for the arduous process of harvesting her bone marrow to obtain the rich, life-giving stem cells that can give leukemia victims a second life. While some harvests involve culling stem cells from a donor’s blood, typically the donor is put under general anesthesia for about two hours while doctors draw liquid marrow from the donor’s pelvic bones. In other words, it involves major surgery—although most donors are released from the hospital within 24 hours.

“I Never Thought Twice”

The hassles of harvesting were of no consequence for animal-loving Hayden. She was determined to help. “When I thought about the fact that this simple donation was saving someone’s life, I never thought twice,” Ryals said. “After completing the process of harvesting and donation, I can say confidently that there is a lot more pain and strife that I would be willing to go through if I knew it could give another person a second chance for a healthy life.”

A Miracle in a Haystack

As it turns out, finding a DNA match for a patient fighting leukemia is nothing short of miraculous—and is often the last chance at life for victims of the lethal disease. “Many of the patients in need of a bone marrow transplant are out of options,” said Ayman Saad, Hayden’s doctor at the Bone Marrow Transplant Program. “And the simple donation from a match — which may be the only match in the world for them, ever — can be the very thing that saves their life.”

Transplant Donors Anonymous

It would not be that common for Skye Savren-McCormick and Hayden Hatfield-Ryals to meet. Bone marrow donations are anonymous. But once the surgery took place in 2016, both of them would be linked forever in a force field of compassion and care. For her part, Hayden Hatfield Ryals would not simply donate her bone marrow and leave it at that. Be The Match permits donors and recipients to communicate anonymously, and at first, Hayden just wanted to know the state of the recipient’s health. But she also hoped that one day she would learn the little girl’s name and eventually make contact.

Reaching Out

The more Hayden thought about her connection to this mysterious little girl and her family, the more she wanted to learn about them. After communicating anonymously for 12 months, she decided to let Be The Match and the recipients know that she was completely fine with revealing her identity and would love to know more about the mystery toddler and her parents. "That whole year killed me," she recalled. "I just wanted to know their names. I wanted to know who this was that really changed my life." Luckily, Talia and Kevin felt the exact same way; they wanted to meet the woman who had helped save her daughter’s life.

From Pen Pals to Real Pals

Things accelerated quickly between the Skye’s family and Hayden. First they exchanged anonymous letters. Then they shared their email addresses. From there it was only a matter of time until Hayden and Talia were talking on the phone and exchanging text messages! For Hayden, the exchanges continued to give her more meaning in her life.

Things Took a Bad Turn…

You are probably ready for the happy ending. You are ready to breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that little Skye is okay, and recovering. We will get there, promise! But as with everything, you have to experience the bad times to appreciate the good times. Skye’s bone marrow transplant went well, but the family was not out of the woods yet. While Skye’s parents celebrated the initial operation at first, they had been told that marrow transplants were not automatic success stories. The family kept its fingers crossed and tried to stay positive—every day they had with Skye was an absolute blessing. Then doctors delivered some heartbreaking news that sent Talia and Kevin reeling.

Second Cancer Strikes

The cancer doctors had horrible news. Skye caught up with a second form of cancer. The name of this cancer is post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder, a form of lymphoma, that initially surfaced in her eyelid. This type of cancer is very rare. Fewer than 1% all bone marrow transplant recipients develop this as a consequence of their transplant. The chances looked grim at first, but Skye was a rare little girl. She had inherited her mom and dad’’s positive nature and a heart-melting smile. But she was tough, too. A tiny fighter who nurses called Warrrior Skye. Doctors thought those traits, combined with wonders of modern medicine, might help her beat the odds of conquering two kinds of cancer. She underwent more bone marrow transplants and chemotherapy. Talia and Todd Savren-McCormick continued to stand by her side, and shower her with hugs and kisses, and administer the healing power of love.

Regarding Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorder

Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorder are lymphomas that occur after a transplant has been completed. To put it in layman’s terms, it is a rapid increase in the number of immune cells in your body. It mostly develops in people taking certain drugs that prevent rejection of an organ or bone marrow transplant. The reason some people develop this disorder after a transplant is unknown. Children have a higher chance of being diagnosed with post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder as they have weakened immune systems that have likely not fought off EBV (Epstein–Barr virus), or a common disease related to those who have post-transplant lymphomas. In Skye’s case, it attacked her eyelid, spinal column, both sides of her neck, and her chest, according to her father.

What the New Disease Means for Skye

Having PTLD is a nightmare for transplant recipients and the doctors who treat them. Why? Because the immunosuppressive drugs that transplant recipients take to ensure their bodies don’t reject the transplant actually cause the recipient’s body to start producing abnormal white blood cells which then flood the lymph nodes. In other words, solving one cancer provoked another. Now Skye’s transplant doctors had to work with lymphoma doctors to make make sure the immunosuppressive drugs could be reduced enough to stop triggering lymphoma or supervise a new round of chemotherapy.

Proud Donor Speaks

Hayden Hatfield Ryals praised Skye for her sense of spunk and positive attitude. We tend to agree—even on her worst days, Skye remained the loveable, innocent, fundamentally happy girl. Skye’s father, Todd, is also proud of Hayden for her contribution too. He was so grateful to Hayden for donating her marrow to Skye. He knew that without Hayden’s marrow, Skye would not have made it through. Everybody was coming out a winner here. And even though Skye required more than one bone marrow treatment, she could not have reached it without Hayden providing the first two.

No Distance Too Great

Distance did not even make even a small difference here. The joy of helping one another kept them going. Skye’s family lives on the west coast in the Golden State of California, and Hayden Hatfield Ryals lives in Alabama, down south. They quickly began to bond with one another. It started with a simple ordinary email-just like we exchange at work every day. Then it started to get really personal, with phone calls and text messages exchanged. It was the turning point of a good deed turned into a beautiful, lifelong friendship. The two stayed in contact throughout the months.

A New Positive

In December of 2017, while Skye was finishing the last of her transplant recovery, Hayden had news of her own. She finished college, graduating from Auburn after studying business and psychology. She was feeling proud of her achievements—and none more than her decision to become a donor.

A Chance of a Lifetime

Skye then received something very special in the mail on her birthday in March. Hayden Hatfield Ryals gave her a few nice gifts. Like most three-year-olds, Skye was happy with her Elsa doll from the movie “Frozen” and Trolls blanket, but the other item in the box was no ordinary present-it had a once-in-a-lifetime invitation to be a flower girl for Ryals’ wedding! Hayden was marrying Air Force Technical Sgt. Adrian Ryals on June 9, and she very much wanted Skye to be with her on her special day. "It said, 'I know you guys probably can't come but I would love Skye to be my flower girl,'" Talia recalled.

A Nerve-Wracking Decision

Skye’s mom and dad were touched. They could not believe how sweet it was. Skye had a chance to show the world just how far she had come in her recovery and make her debut as an adorable flower girl. But they had huge concerns about their daughter’s health. In January of this year, Skye had battled a triple lung infection—an attack that was so scary, Skye had to inhaled oxygen through a CPap tube hooked up to her nose. So they had serious concerns about whether Skye would be healthy enough to make the trip.

Mixed Emotions

Skye’s parents kept the invitation on their refrigerator door. Every time they opened it to get some food, they were confronted by the question: Would they be able to take Skye to see the woman who had provided enough bone marrow and stem cells to provide their angelic daughter with two transplants? It was important to both parents to meet Hayden. "The chance to meet her was foremost in my mind ... to say 'thank you,'" said Todd, the carpenter who is now a stay-at-home dad while Talia teaches school.

A Turn for the Better!

Skye’s health improved. Finally, the couple asked a doctor if he thought Skye could safely make the journey. The answer was just what they’d hoped: Yes, Skye could make the trip. They smiled in relief. It felt like a major turning point in their lives. And they knew Hayden would be thrilled.

Over the Moon

Across the country, in her home in Alabama, Hayden was elated when she heard the news that she would finally get to meet the little girl who had given her life so much meaning and focus. She added three more names to the guest list and shipped Talia further instructions for her big day. A day that, thanks to Talia, Kevin and Skye, had just gotten bigger.

Love at First Sight

Who says there is no such thing as love at first sight? Hayden Hatfield Ryals met the lovely Skye Savren-McCormick for the very first time at her wedding rehearsal. Hayden Hatfield Ryals came into the room, came up to Skye and just fell to her knees. "My world just stopped," Hayden remembered. "It was me and her and it was the perfect moment." You can understand her reaction— Skye is just so cute and Hayden must have been filled with joy at the sight of the once-sickly child who was now so full of life.

Meeting the Bride

Hugs were exchanged, and Skye and Hayden spent the whole night sitting together, laughing and bonding like friends. Some meetings are just destiny. Talia Severen-McCormick stated that it was really sweet—just like they were in love. Although Warrior Skye was too young ot understand the role Hayden played in her life, she instantly connected with the beautiful bride. "She just knows Hayden is very special," said Talia, discussing the young woman who not only shared her wedding, but the very marrow of her being. "I love her. She's generous and selfless. She's a beautiful soul."

Special Day, Special Job, Special Girl

The day finally came for Skye to make her big walk down the aisle as the flower girl for Hayden Hatfield Ryals and Adrian Ryals. She was wearing an adorable white dress with a lovely blue sash, and a special set of pearls given to her by the bride inscribed with her name. She looked like a fairytale princess, right from a storybook. She had practiced in her home beforehand by walking around her living room with a little basket. We think all this practice paid off, as she had the whole wedding crowd in a flurry of emotion. Skye scattered petals, walked to the altar, sat on a step. Then she melted more hearts when she undid the bow in her dress. Later, after Hayden and Adrian exchanged “I do’s” she walked back up the aisle, a prim and perfect little cutie holding her mother's hand.

Emotions Running High

The wedding photographer who captured the nuptials was taken aback with the emotion that arose from Skye’s presence. She said that there were no dry eyes in the house, and that sobs could be heard. It was a special moment that signified so much for everyone involved, and a statement of victory over the terrible cancer. Skye was in remission, recovering well, and everyone was happy.

Bonded Through Bone Marrow

The two beautiful ladies connected instantly. Despite Skye’s young age, she knows that Hayden Hatfield Ryals is a special person. Skye is much too little to realize the wonderful gift that Ryals has given her, but at the same time she knows that Ryals is a one-in-a-million type of person. Mr. and Mrs. Savren-McCormick look forward to continuing the relationship with Hayden as the years go by and their child grows. The proud and radiant bride even carried a special locket down the aisle in her bouquet. It was given to her by Talia and Kevin and It had a photo of Skye contained within and a message declaring, “This heart beats with yours.”

A News Worthy Story

The combination of Skye’s dramatic tale of survival and her appearance at the wedding of the woman who helped make that survival possible made an irresistible story. Newspapers all over the world covered the story. So did TV news and morning shows, who shared the moving meeting with viewers. Talia and Hayden used the opportunity not only to share their amazing story, but to increase awareness for leukemia sufferers and the life-giving work that Make the Match and other donor registries perform.

Perfect day

For Hayden, Skye’s attendance at her wedding is something she’s still trying to get over. “To me, having Skye be a part of my wedding was indescribable, but it really brought the whole experience about bone marrow transplantation full circle,” Hayden said. “I could never have imagined that, when I simply stopped to learn more about BeThe Match and the importance of bone marrow transplantation when walking to class, I would end up on this journey with Skye.”

You Can Do It Too!

The Savren-McCormicks want to let everybody know just how simple it is to get yourself on the bone marrow registry. Talia Savren-McCormick, Skye’s mom, believes that we all can be super heroes, regardless of what we look like or where we come from-just by choosing to donate bone marrow. You never know who you can match with, and whose life you will touch. Truly, not all heroes wear capes! Certainly, we think Skye will look upon Hayden with the same admiration we have for heroes like Superman and Captain America and yet, it is Hayden who believes that Skye saved her.

A Forever Friend

Hayden Hatfield Ryals says that the special bond with Skye will remain in place until the end of her life. Hayden thinks that she is the one who was actually rescued. That in some way she was saved by Skye. She felt it was a real privilege and honor to help out with Skye’s recovery and well-being. It was a win-win situation for everyone, as friendships were made and lives were saved. It showed the power of human compassion. We hope nothing but the best for Skye and Hayden Hatfield Ryals as they grow, become even closer, and remain bonded in their special way.

I Want to Help!

It is worth noting that Skye needed multiple donations of bone marrow to make it through. Skye, as well as her mom and dad, can be grateful to the many helpful and brave donors who choose to donate their marrow. We are fortunate to have generous and kind people in our world willing to donate. It is a time-consuming process that requires donors to take time off work, and spend time in hospital. Donors are not paid for what they do, but the sense of fulfillment they receive is worth more than any amount of money.

Many Wonderful Helpers

Did you know that Skye needed help from over 71 different people to help her get well? Hayden Hatfield is just one of the many wonderful people that reached deep into their hearts and gave generously to help Skye get well. They ranged in ages 17-71, and despite this huge range, they all shared a kind heart that helped a toddler get better. Skye, with the help of these donors, her parents, and her amazing team of doctors, made it out of the clutches of cancer. Her nurses even called her “Warrior Skye” because she was so brave in her fight.

The Kindness of Strangers

Not long after she was out of danger, Skye also got to meet two dozen of the blood and platelet donors who open up their hearts—and veins— to sustain the feisty little girl’s life during her terrifying ordeal at the UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. Skye’s grateful parents brought her to a luncheon organized by the UCLA Blood and Platelet Center and Skye’s tearful mom got to thank the strangers who helped save her daughter’s life.

“You Gave Us Life in a Bag”

Cancer prevented Skye’s body from being able to produce enough blood cells and platelets to transport oxygen to her organs and to fight infection and foster healing. So the donors were literally lifesavers. And Skye’s mom, Talia Savren-McCormick, made that very clear, thanking the donors in the audience and calling their donations “life in a bag. Each time Skye received a transfusion, it was like life had been breathed back into her,” Talia said. “You provided Skye with a powerful bridge toward health until she was strong enough to undergo treatment.”

An Awesome Feeling

Doctors and donors alike were moved by Talia’s words. They were even more moved by the sight of tiny warrior Skye smiling and laughing. “Come on, it’s indescribable,” blood donor Howard Turner said, about seeing the little girl who relied on his blood to survive. “It’s awesome.” Another donor for Skye, Tim Brennan, who has given blood and platelets at UCLA for six years, fought back tears. “I keep getting choked up and trying not to cry,” he said, noting his blood just goes in a bag and is taken away. He doesn’t know where it goes or who it helps. Dr. Satiro De Oliveira, an assistant professor of pediatric hematology-oncology, called Skye “ one of our baby miracles at UCLA,” and said the lunch was a celebration of Skye’s health and donors dedication. “Without the blood transfusions, she would either be too weak or she would bleed to death because of the absence of platelets,” said De Oliveira.

Tears of Thanks

At the celebration’s end, Skye’s mom fought back a flood of tears as she once again thanked the donors—whose blood flows through her daughter’s heart. She had every right to be emotional. With Skye in remission and gaining weight and growing, the future was no longer a terrifying proposition. She no longer had nightmares of losing her precious-but-indomitable daughter. Her heart swelled with gratitude for everyone in the room, and she delivered words that moved others to tears. “When you donate, think of Skye and how you helped save her life,” Talia said. “How you pumped life into her body. And how you pumped hope into our family.”

The Fierce Advocate

Talia will never stop advocating for young cancer victims. Just this September she posted a heartfelt plea to family, friends, and complete strangers: September is childhood cancer awareness month. Love to everyone who has ever watched your child fight cancer. Even more love to those currently fighting. It is the hardest thing I have ever had to do as a mom. If you know a family fighting or in remission, reach out to them and lend support. It is so hard to ask others for help, sometimes even the act of asking is enough.” She ended the post with a tribute to her daughter: #warriorskye.

Mutual Lifesavers

Back in Alabama, Hayden Ryals continues to rejoice over her connection to Skye and her family. She even has the photo above as the cover photo on her Facebook page. In fact, she remains grateful to the brave little girl who needed her—because it turns out that on another level Hayden needed Skye, too. “All the time, people want to do good things and sometimes don’t know where to start; but Skye is living proof that the journey I embarked on was worthwhile,” Hayden explained. “People comment about how amazing it is that I saved her life, but the donation I gave actually saved mine.”

An Unbroken Chain

For the Savren-McCormicks, Hayden’s Ryals appearance in their lives is just one of a series of unexpected miracles. They’ve come to feel that their daughter is an unstoppable force, someone who has a will and lets the world help her find a way. "I always say it's Skye's world and we are living in it," Talia said. That world has gotten a little broader now that newlyweds Hayden and Adrian Ryals now live in Florida. The families don't know when they'll meet again, but they fully expect a reunion will happen. Who knows? Maybe Adrian will get a military posting in California! No matter what happens, Hayden insists the bond the two families have will never be broken. "They're not like family now, they are family," said Hayden.

Happily, Ever After

We close this story with an ending everybody loves-where we get to say, “And they lived happily ever after.” Everybody came out a winner here, and the road was not an easy one. Like a fairy tale, an evil villain called cancer appeared. The brave warriors, led by Skye, banded together and slayed that cancer like a fire-breathing dragon. The bravery they showed payed off ten-fold as valuable friendships were formed. But she couldn’t have done it without the help of the love of her parents, generous donors and the kindness of Hayden Hatfield Ryals. Goodness prevailed, and the day was saved!