Kaila Williams touched the lives of all she encountered

July 14, 2016   ·   0 Comments

On June 16th, the world became a little less bright at the loss of a soul filled with joy and light. Kaila Williams (MacDuff) passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by her family, and comforted by her husband, Mike.

The end came after a long battle with cancer; while this particular bout lasted two years, her fight lasted a lifetime. In spite of that, she never gave up. She lived the kind of life with the kind of attitude one would expect from someone privileged enough to have a life free from struggle. She was positive, and her whole being radiated a kind of joy that has been described by those who knew her as intoxicating.

Kaila was born July 3rd, 1988 in Toronto to Lori MacDuff, where the family lived until moving to British Columbia around the age of five.  Her battle began when she was just six years old. Kaila was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) and received chemotherapy for it. The cancer resurfaced again, and at the age of eight, she received her first bone marrow transplant.

Despite her small size, Kaila was full of strength, never giving up hope until she went into remission.

She was the kindest of souls, but also had a playful side, finding new ways to seek delight in life with her younger sister, Leah, in tow.

Throughout her life, despite the hardship thrown her way, Kaila had an unshakeable faith. She believed without fail that her life was in God’s hands, and had a passion for sharing the message of Christ with all she encountered.

Kaila’s relationship with her sisters was a bond unlike any other; Leah, and their eldest sister Jessica, described her as admirable for her passion and faith in God.

“She wanted everything in her life to bring glory to God,” explained Jessica. “Even when she was a little girl she had a zealous nature, defending the gospel and reaching out to people with her experiences to help them see that even in life’s difficulties it was possible to lean on God for your source of strength.”

Kaila was the perfect blend of mischief and kindness; a truly genuine soul. Her friends and family would attest to the idea that she loved deeper than anyone they had ever met, wanting to see everyone blessed.

In 2007 she met her future husband, Michael Williams, while working at a Mr. Sub in Brampton. Much like the story of most teenage girls, she saw him and was instantly smitten, while he took a while longer.

In 2014, Mike and Kaila were able to take Kaila’s dream vacation to Disney, which they were able to do in between chemo treatments. Reflecting back, Mike says it makes him happy he was able to fulfill this dream for her before she passed.

In 2014, Mike and Kaila were able to take Kaila’s dream vacation to Disney, which they were able to do in between chemo treatments. Reflecting back, Mike says it makes him happy he was able to fulfill this dream for her before she passed.

When asked though, Mike will tell you the moment he noticed her and their eyes connected, he was hooked. They were married in April of 2012, and their relationship could easily be labelled a fairy-tale romance. This was fitting, as Kaila was an avid Disney fan who delighted in the magical worlds they created.

“She was my real life princess,” Mike said. “And I was her prince. We just fit together; we didn’t have to fight to make it work. We were each other’s better half—we really were soulmates.”

Though they were several years apart, Mike explained that age never affected their relationship.

“We knew we were meant for each other,” he explained. “She had a fun, young-spirited personality and was incredible youthful. It was one of the things I loved about her the most. We were both youthful old souls.”

He added that what she lacked in size, she definitely made up for in spirit. Friends would joke that she was hardly larger than a Hobbit, referencing both her adoration for the Lord of the Rings books and movie franchise, as well as her height. At less than 100 pounds, she was an unforeseen powerhouse of strength emotionally, mentally, and even physically.

Kaila had a knack for connecting with people. Whether she had just encountered them or been a part of their lives for a while, she was passionate about being a positive influence on their lives.

“She met many people by reaching out to them, recognizing they needed encouragement,” added Jessica. “Whether it was getting chemo, or through fertility struggles, she was always reaching out to people that she recognized needed something. Sometimes it was an encouraging word, or even just an overture of friendship. No-one who met her wasn’t touched in some way simply by knowing her.”

Talking to any of her relatives or friends will yield the same comments about how knowing her had an impact on their lives greater than they had ever imagined.

“She just connected with you, quickly, deeply, and on a level of intimacy usually reserved for someone you have known a lifetime,” one friend wrote anonymously. “Within weeks of knowing each other she became one of my best friends. No matter how difficult her life had become, she always had time to care about and invest in the hardships I was facing. Often, she put my hardships first, before speaking about her own.”

In early 2014, Kaila received word she had developed a new cancer; MDS (Myelodysplastic Syndromes) – a group of diverse bone marrow disorders often referred to as “bone marrow failure disorder.”

Following the diagnosis, she was treated with radiation and chemotherapy in preparation for another bone marrow transplant. A donor was found, and in February of 2015, she was able to proceed with the transplant.

Her recovery from there was nothing short of miraculous. She exceeded the expected recovery timeframe, and for a while, things began to look up.

In the months awaiting the tests to see whether the transplant took, Kaila spent her time digging into the Bible, searching for ways she could use her story to both help others and share her faith.

At the end of 2015, doctors discovered her body had only accepted 80 percent of the transplant. She began treatments shortly after Christmas, and spent much of 2016 in and out of the hospital. In April, Kaila and Mike were informed the MDS had become AML (Acute myeloid leukemia, which is characterized by the rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells accumulating in the marrow).

Her health deteriorated rapidly, leading up to her passing on June 16th.

When asking anyone who knew her how they would describe Kaila, their answers were variations of the same thing. Kaila was unique; not in the way that everyone is an individual, but in a way that was unlike any person they had ever encountered. She was special, the likes of which most believe they will never encounter again.

Although the pain of her loss will be felt by many for years to come, it is a shared sentiment that they can feel joy she is finally at peace, free from cancer, from pain, and from a fight that lasted most of her 27 years on this earth.

Those who had the privilege to develop any kind of close or intimate relationship with her have said they feel blessed to have been touched by such an incredible woman.

Her husband Mike shared, in closing, that his privilege was the opportunity to have a marriage with her that few have had, adding that she changed his life in many, many ways.

“I’ve been told most couples don’t even dream of getting to experience the kind of relationship we had,” said Mike. “People tell me they looked up to us because of the connection we had. They said it was visible the relationship we had wasn’t one that required work; that our souls were entwined in a kind of passion that radiated from us and reflected in who we were with each other.”

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