A young Estevan girl, who’s made it her personal mission to spread awareness about cancer, said she was thrilled to be named ambassador for the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon.
Nine-year-old Payton Sernick was diagnosed with Stage 4 acute lymphoblastic leukemia and lymphoma. In spite of her diagnoses, Payton helped raise $35,000 for the children's hospital through her “Cancer Sucks" project. She said she got the idea to sell suckers on a day when she was not feeling very hungry.
"My mom's like 'what do you want' and I'm like 'suckers' and when she asked why, I said 'for the children's hospital,'" she said.
For the past two summers, Payton and her brother sold suckers for a dollar a piece. The community has also held several fundraisers, and Sernick's dad built a playhouse which was raffled off for $14,000.
Payton has become quite well known in her area for her campaign. She has done 11 presentations at schools in the Estevan and Regina areas. She said she wants other kids to know the truth about cancer.
"I want them to know that cancer isn't contagious and that it's hard to go through cancer," she said.
Sernick is currently at Edmonton's Stollery Hospital, where she recently had a tumor removed from her stomach, and is now awaiting a bone marrow transplant. Sernick was diagnosed with cancer at the age of six after experiencing stomach cramps so debilitating she could barely walk. Doctors discovered her abdomen was riddled with tumors. Since that time, she has undergone a full year of intensive chemotherapy, and spent almost 200 days in hospital.
When asked where she draws her strength from, Payton replied “my mom and dad.” Mom Andrea said she is very proud of her daughter's accomplishments.
"I've basically become a full-time book worker and personal assistant to two children," she said jokingly. She added she wanted people to know there are so many other kids like Payton.
"You know when they are at the clinic and they're playing, there's no pity parties or anything like that. All of these kids that have these severe illnesses are really amazing," Andrea said.
The family continues to spread awareness about cancer and raise funds for the Children's Hospital through a website they have created.
On Twitter: @nigelmaxwell
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