Children’s Miracle Network: Meet Layah Collins

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Layah Collins is like any other kindergartner, bubbly and full of life. But in 2019 and over the next five years, she would endure unimaginable pain and suffering from Neuroblastoma. But her mother says with help of the doctors and nurses at the Maynard Children’s Hospital, it’s a battle Layah would fight and win.

“Girl on fire.” 6-year-old Layah Collins says that’s her favorite song. Ironically, it also describes her incredible journey in her fight against cancer.

In 2019, 1-year-old Layah was diagnosed with stage four Neuroblastoma. Her mother, Alysha Collins, says she found out after a scan at the Maynard Children’s Hospital revealed a bump on her head was actually a tumor.

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“I was shocked not what I was expecting. It’s one of those you see the commercials on TV but you never think it’s going to be your child,” says Collins.

Enter Dr. Cathleen Cook, a woman who Alysha says not only became their physician, but an honorary member of the family and would stand by her and Layah’s side from that moment on.

“On my fridge, on the top part, I have when she was diagnosed and all the pictures that she has shared and given to me. So, my son even knows who Layah is, so we do get very close to our patients,” says Cook.

By 2020, 2-year-old Layah had seven surgeries, five bone marrow biopsies, one specialized radiation session, one stem cell infusion and thirteen cycles of Chemotherapy. It was then that Alysha says it became apparent the disease was winning and she was forced to make the hardest decision she’s ever had to make and stop treatment.

“Nothing was working and the treatments made her sick, she was nauseous, she threw up, she had lost all of her hair, her beautiful curls had all fallen out and I just wanted her home because if it wasn’t working I didn’t want to keep putting her through that. She was only 2 and her little body had already been through so much,” says Collins.

Alysha says, however – her daughter did live and thrive – and over the next three years frequent scans showed the cancer was not growing or spreading.

The relief was short-lived — in 2023, tests showed new sites of the disease not previously seen. That’s when 5-year-old Layah would undergo yet another brain surgery and be given a different Chemotherapy agent, referred to as compassionate use medication.

The new treatment worked — and in January 2024 6-year-old Layah’s scan was negative. Alysha says it is nothing short of a miracle for her daughter to be in remission for the first time in five years.

“I was like what does this mean and she said that she would be considered in remission, and I just cried, because those were words that I never thought I was going to hear,” says Collins.

Alysha says although it’s been a rough road, she’s grateful for the support from all the doctors and nurses at the Maynard Children’s Hospital.

“The care here was amazing, everybody made us feel like family, still when she walks through the front door everybody knows who Layah is, everybody knows,” says Collins.

She says Layah is stronger than ever and living the life that she deserves.

“This girl is on fire. She’s walking on fire. This girl is on fire,” says Collins.

Dr. Cook says Layah is in remission and there are no new signs of the disease. She says Layah will receive scans every three months for the next couple of years and continue to be monitored through age 25.

You can continue to make miracles like Layah’s happen when you tune in and make a pledge this weekend during the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon.