Estevan's Payton Sernick has become one of the young faces for the much-anticipated Jim Pattison Children's Hospital during her two-and-a-half year battle with cancer.
And now, the 4th-grader from Sacred Heart School has been selected as the Saskatchewan Ambassador for the Champions Program, presented by Wal-Mart Canada. The program honours remarkable children who have triumphed despite several medical challenges.
"As the champion child, I'll be representing all of Saskatchewan and the (Jim Pattison) Children's Hospital for all the kids that need it," explained Payton in a phone interview on Thursday morning. Payton and her family are currently in Edmonton as last week, she underwent surgery at Stollery Children's hospital to remove a new tumour in her abdomen.
The now 9-year-old's battle began in late 2014 as she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and Lymphoma. The fight included 40 days in isolation in hospital, x-rays, tests, ultrasounds, CT and MRI scans, biopsies, bone marrow aspirations, as well as many painful episodes of blood work before beginning nearly a full year of intense chemotherapy.
While continuing treatments, Payton took it upon herselp to share her story with schools and clubs to show other kids that cancer doesn't have to be scary. In 2016, Payton and her little brother Beckham launched the 'Cancer Sucks!' project, which has raised over $35,000 for the Jim Pattison Children's Hospital Foundation.
"I'm excited (for the new hospital in Saskatoon) because all the resources will be under one roof," added Payton, who will be in Edmonton for another six months before becoming a bone marrow transplant patient in Calgary.
"People should continue to donate because it's a good cause...and because they probably don't have anything else to do with their money."
As part of the Champions Program, Payton and other ambassadors from across Canada are invited to attend Children's Hospitals Week events in Ottawa. They will also travel to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida to meet with ambassadors from across North America.
"We're so proud of Payton for taking her role as Champion Child seriously," expressed Payton's parents, Andrea and Cheyenne Sernick. "Payton is the sweetest and we adore her determination to get things done."
"Beat cancer...no problem! Make sure a hospital gets built...she's on it!"
DANNY EWEN with PAYTON SERNICK: