September 10, 2020
Former Champion Child crowned survivor
It’s been a good year for Payton Sernick of Estevan.
In fact, it’s been a good two years. On June 7, 2020, the two-time cancer survivor marked two years since her life-altering bone marrow transplant, which crowns her the official title of survivor.
The procedure back in 2018 gave Payton 13 million new cells in her body, which even changed her blood type from A+ to O+. It was the key that allowed her to beat cancer once and for all. Now, Payton is healthier than ever and back to being a normal kid again.
That is, until a pandemic hit. Being immunocompromised, Payton needed to be extra careful, but it certainly was not her first rodeo.
“I’ve been training my whole life for this,” said Payton, who recently celebrated her 12th birthday.
Her bone marrow transplant required 100 days of strict isolation in hospital, so staying home to stay safe this time around was no challenge for Payton. From her perspective, she had access to the entire house and yard, TV, internet, food in the fridge and room to dance and stretch. It was a big upgrade from a typical hospital room.
“Throughout COVID-19 isolation, we were extremely cautious until the world started learning more,” said Payton’s mom Andrea. “I took [the kids] out of school two weeks before they even shut down.”
Andrea hasn’t heard Payton complain once about isolation, but it hasn’t been easy for everybody. The family of four, including Payton’s little brother Beckham, still struggles with past traumas from when Payton’s life was on shaky ground. The fear of her getting sick again was high, but Payton maintained strength throughout the pandemic so far.
“These days they are playing with friends every day,” said Andrea. “They have gone into Walmart once, just recently, and that was like ‘the best day ever’. We are just not taking any unnecessary risks.”
The fight of Payton’s life started at age six when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The diagnosis brought in nearly one full year of intense chemotherapy and over 200 days in hospital. In September 2018, Payton’s cancer had returned, which prompted the family to move to Edmonton for a six-month hospital stay in preparation for a bone marrow transplant.