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Shayla has a lot of love

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In 2021, Shayla started getting frequent nosebleeds. It didn’t seem too concerning, and yet, something led her mom, Shelanda, to request bloodwork. And the results were cause for great concern. Shayla had acute myeloid leukemia

Shayla underwent chemotherapy at a hospital near her home. “But within three months we heard that word that nobody wants to hear,” said Shelanda. “Relapse. All the walls came crashing down.”

St. Jude patient Shayla wears a colorful dress and smiles shyly with her hands in front of her.

When the family learned St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was an option for further treatment, they said yes immediately. 

Weeks after arriving at St. Jude, Shayla’s aggressive leukemia was still uncontrolled. Her St. Jude care team devised a new treatment plan aimed at preparing her for a potentially lifesaving bone marrow transplant. As soon as they were able to bring the leukemia count in her bone marrow to zero, Shayla underwent a haploidentical transplant with her mother as her donor.


Because of generous donors like you, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — so they can focus on helping their child live.


Several weeks later, Shayla and Shelanda were discharged to St. Jude housing to celebrate Christmas. Shelanda remembers how happy and excited 3-year-old Shayla was to see the dusting of snow outside – a new sight for her. They opened gifts with their family back home over Facetime. “It felt good,” said Shelanda. “It wasn't ideal that we weren't together, but we were grateful that we had even reached that far."

It's easy to feel alone during the holidays when everybody's with family, but we didn't feel alone here.

St. Jude patient Shayla's mom

St. Jude patient Shayla in front of a Christmas tree on the St. Jude campus

St. Jude patient Shayla 


Shayla’s cancer has remained in remission since her transplant. “Because we've been through relapse, you take it month by month, you take it test by test,” said Shelanda. “Despite everything that she's been through, she's still happy. She still has a lot of love, a lot of spark, a lot of life in her. You look at this child and she's still eager to learn, to see, to do everything .... And you want to be able to give the world to her. St Jude gave us the opportunity to fight for her life. For many reasons, St. Jude saved Shayla's life.”

St. Jude patient Shayla shows her arm muscles while her mom kneels beside her and laughs.

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