Childhood Cancer Surviver Helps Others

Saylor Hayes of Lincoln, DE showing off a Tree of Hope.

Their forth year in a row, the Hayes family of Lincoln, DE will host Saylor’s Trees of Hope to raise money and support for local children battling cancer. No stranger to childhood cancer, seven-year-old Saylor Hayes and her mother Nicole will sell baked Christmas tree cakes to help Sawyer Shore, a beautiful, brave one-year-old girl being treated for cancer at AI DuPont.

Recently living in the state of Florida, Sawyer’s mothers Sarah and Stephanie came back to Sarah’s hometown of Laurel, DE to celebrate Sawyer’s first birthday. While in Delaware, Sawyer had a cold which continued to worsen which turned into an infection that led her parents to a walk-in clinic. At the walk-in clinic an x-ray was ordered revealing a mass on her kidney. After several hospitals, the family visited Boston Children’s Hospital where she had a two pound cancerous tumor on her right kidney removed as well as part of her diaphram. After her surgery, Sawyer began her six month chemo treatment.

“[Sawyer’s] road to recovery has been arduous. She has all of the symptoms typical from chemo however she can not speak so it is difficult to pinpoint what hurts her or when she is going to be sick.” said Sarah “As her mommies we try to read signals. We have done our best to tune in to the slightest signs of discomfort. We have become hypersensitive to her needs.”

Stephanie and Sarah have had to keep Sawyer away from other children as much as possible without completely isolating her because of her compromised immunity. She has been hospitalized because of fevers and exhausted from medicine all though her moms say that through it all she manages to smile, dance and laugh.

“I am a member of the clergy and have spent my life on the giving side of things. For my wife, daughter and I to be on the receiving end of things was an adjustment at first. One would think that it is easy to accept help however it is challenging and humbling,” said Stephanie. “We have been called to open our hearts, arms and minds and receive all of the love, support and resources that people continue to offer. We are profoundly and deeply grateful. As I stated before, when the Hayes family contacted us we were deeply moved by their caring generosity. It is an amazing feeling to know that perfect strangers want to reach out and help us. it is a testament to the power of love and God.”



Stephanie, Sarah and Sawyer Shore.
Stephanie, Sarah and Sawyer Shore.


The commitment to helping other families is deeply rooted in the Hayes family’s own history as they have felt the outreach of their local community over the last several years after their daughter Saylor was diagnosed in November 16, 2010 with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, just a month after she turned two years old. With determination and perseverance Saylor made it through the maintenance process of her treatment where she continued to battle the disease with chemotherapy until 2013. Saylor began her recovery at home with mom, dad and her two older brother after months of chemotherapy, spinal taps and continual blood work. Fortunately for Saylor, medical advancements in cancer treatment have led to significant survival rates for children with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, 90% according to the American Cancer Society. Unfortunately, no level of innovation has led to the absence of pain for patients diagnosed with the disease. In additional to the physical sickness Saylor continually felt from chemotherapy treatment, she was also required many nights to stay overnight at the hospital away from her entire family. Many community members and organizations rallied behind the Hayes family including the Milford Library and the Clam Jan Benefit to help pay medical expenses and pray for Saylor’s health. Saylor’s Trees of Hope began during the Christmas season of 2012, when Saylor was still undergoing chemotherapy.

“I didn’t like to take her out a lot during flu and cold season so what better to do than bake. I decided to make a Christmas tree cake for her to decorate herself, I helped smooth the icing on the cake and Saylor had a blast with the sprinkles and candies,” said Nicole Hayes. “It was the most perfect, imperfect cake I’d ever seen, It then popped into my mind that this would be a great way to raise funds to help others, give back, and show our gratitude for all the help we received in our time of need.”

The first year Saylor’s Trees of Hope donated to long time friends of the family that created the Good ‘Ole Boy Foundation”, an organization formed to mobilize the local community in an effort to unite resources and assist families in their time of unforeseen difficulties. Year two funds were donated to AI Dupont’s Child Life Room, an area in the hospital where kids can color, do crafts and play games, as well as provide new toys, games, books and activities for children that are confined to their hospital rooms.  Last year the family came to learn about baby Ella, she was a year old and diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“We wanted to help their family during Christmas, or for whatever they needed at the time. It’s only because of the humble, loving, giving and caring friends and family I have that Saylor’s Trees of Hope has come so far.  We definitely could not have done it without all of them,” said Nicole. “As for little Miss Saylor, she loves to decorate the cakes,  it’s a lot of fun. Each cake is different and has its own personal touch, Saylor doesn’t get the whole concept yet but in years to come I want her to know how loved and supported she was during a very scary time in our lives and how giving is in fact the best gift one can receive.”

Three years post treatment, Saylor is now seven years old and in first grade at Lulu Ross Elementary in Milford, DE and on the honor roll. “She is healthy, happy and full of energy,” said Nicole. “After our last successful visit to AI DuPont on November 13, we are now having check ups only every six months.”

Individuals can help raise money and awareness for Sawyer Shore by ordering Christmas Tree cakes by visiting the Saylor’s Tree’s of Hope Facebook page and messaging Nicole on Facebook or text at 302-682-1749. Vanilla and chocolate cakes are available as pick up is December 18 through 20. Cakes are $22 each, and funds will be donated to the Shore Family for Saywer’s care.