Quinnipiac community comes together to help as cafeteria worker battles cancer

HAMDEN – It is that time of the year where everyone heads back to school. Students at Quinnipiac University are not only thrilled to be back on campus, but there is a familiar face they always make time to see.

The cafeteria on campus is typically one of the busiest areas on campus and it is not because students go there just to get a quick bite to eat. They go there because they want to see one of their favorite workers who just so happens to have a story to share.

New faces, new school year, new classes and one of the talkers on campus lately is the noodle bar at the cafeteria. That is just one of the many changes Leyanda DaSilva, 41, of New Haven has seen throughout her time working on campus.

For the past six years, DaSilva has been at the same register in the same chair and every year, her register has the longest line.

“I don’t think she realizes how big of an impact she has on people,” said Becca Denning, a junior at Quinnipiac University.

“What’s up?! Because I’m goofy! I’m funny!” said DaSilva.

Funny on the outside but confused on the inside after she recently found out her breast cancer came back for the second time. Doctors told her it is stage four.

“I’m mad. I’m mad,” added DaSilva.

She is currently undergoing chemotherapy and DaSilva made the choice to cut off all her hair. She now only has photos of herself to look back on to remember when she was cancer-free.

“It sounds bad but I try not to … think of it,” added DaSilva.

Underneath her smile and laugh are worries.

“My kids … leaving my kids,” added DaSilva. “Just the thought of leaving them here is hurtful.”

Amid all the pain is the support she has received.

Becca Denning is one of the students that wait patiently in line to have Leyanda ring her up every day. She started a GoFundMe page to help Leyanda out with her treatments and since then, she has raised hundreds of dollars. Donations have come from students and teachers with the total still climbing.

“I think just going to see Leyanda every day in the cafeteria just to get a quick bite to eat, seeing her would really turn my day around,” added Denning.

“Sometimes it takes something to happen to you to understand that,” added DaSilva.

A fraternity is hosting an event Saturday for Leyanda and she said she is going to bring her whole family. While the proceeds raised will be for her, she said she is going to donate all of it St. Judge Children’s Research Hospital instead.

If you would like to join the Quinnipiac community in helping out Leyanda, click here for the GoFundMe page.