This is Payton. For those of you who have not met this little girl personally, you are missing out on some true sunshine!
Payton is 7 years old, sister to Beckham (5yr), and daughter of Cheyenne and Andrea Sernick from Estevan, Sk.
Payton attends Grade 2 French at Sacred Heart school, however school and life started changing in the early fall of 2014. She had a sore tummy for a while then started having some leg pain the morning of her School Terry Fox Run. Payton then had some days of school that played her out and she was tired.
It really doesn't seem like much, but Payton was having the worst battle of her life inside her own little body without anyone knowing.
Red flags were waving saying there was something more. This was not just a tummy virus and some growing pains.
On October 27th, 2014, Payton was admitted to Regina General Hospital. The following day came the explanation no parent can bare to hear.
In a small room with a doctor, resident doctor, social worker, nurse and a mom, these words were heard;
masses, neck, masses, chest, heart, masses, abdomen, 17cm long, masses, pelvic, hundreds, pain. Tumors. Cancer.
There were silent tears.
The following three days were intense for Payton (and Mom and Dad) with tests, scans, surgeries, and more words; Tumor by her heart, Echogram, Radiation preparation, Tumor wrapping around and squeezing spine, bone scans, Port-a-Cath, bone marrow and core sample.
Chemo treatments began.
Payton was diagnosed with a form of lymphoma.
The following day on Hallowe'en, Payton's second Oncology doctor came into her hospital room. As she sat there in her homemade mummy costume hooked up to her IV pole, he started talking immediately about "her cancer". This was the first time she heard this word and started connecting the dots of the last few days. He said Payton has cancer in her bone marrow at a stage 4. Leukemia was then added to her diagnosis.
As mom and dad held back more tears and were holding her hand, Payton was getting frustrated. The most incredible thing happened next, she reached behind her in her candy bowl grabbed a chocolate bar and twizzler, got off her bed, grabbed her IV pole, walked over and handed them to her Doctor. The Doctor who just told her she has cancer.
Hearts were bursting. How can you not love this little girl?
Her journey continues. Payton was moved to a high risk protocol of her diagnosis and did intense Chemo Therapy receiving treatments, or multiple treatments almost every day. Today, Payton is in Maintenance Phase of her treatment .
The Sernicks were living in Regina for the year. Payton has 2 wonderful Oncology Doctors and numerous nurses who certainly enjoy her adorable yet strong personality! During Phase 1, Payton spent 40 days in hospital, most in room isolation. Not once during that time did she complain and want to leave her room.
She made friends with the Child Life Specialist and Teacher on the ward, along with her nurses and doctors.
During Phase 2, Payton mostly stayed at their home in Regina other than scheduled hospital stays and overnight emergencies. Otherwise, she had clinic visits during the daytime. Maintenance phase has allowed the Sernicks to move home to Estevan with monthly trips to the Allan Blair Cancer Center in Regina, SK. Payton has been admitted back to hospital several times for a week or two here and there.
Her schoolwork continues with the tremendous help and support of her teachers in Estevan at Sacred Heart. She is able to attend school most days. Bananas, a Monkey In My Chair, takes Payton's place in class during her absent days.
Payton has so many friends at home, from the neighbourhood, dance, music, swim, skating, all of her activities and even Rotary where she was quite a weekly regular until pesky school got in the way. She has a huge group of people who adore her.
Payton smiles a lot when she is feeling good.
Yes, it is how they say, day by day and sometimes hour by hour. But, the focus is on all of the good days and the happy family moments, of which there are a lot. Beckham is full of wonderful questions about his sister. He adapted to life away from home and is very happy to be back in his own room again. One morning while driving to the hospital he said, "I wish the hospital was our home so we can stay with Payton every night."
The love, positive wishes, prayers, hugs, phone calls, messages, letters, pictures, cards, crafts and gifts have been overwhelming. Cheyenne, Andrea, Beckham and Payton are so thankful for the support of great friends and family.
Big things are in store for the Sernick kids. Payton, with Beckham's help, has started The Cancer Sucks Project with all proceeds going to the Children's Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan. Paying it forward.
"Some moments she is running around the house playing, the next she is lying on the couch quiet. Payton has been through so much that most adults could not handle, yet she still smiles and laughs. Of course she is angry and mad at times, but she is seven, and this is a lot to deal with. Chemicals are being pumped into her body that make her vomit, not want to eat, make her tired and made her hair fall out. She has over 1000 Beads of Courage so far. That's 1000 times + she had to do something she didn't want to do from swallowing medication, getting port needles, lumbar punctures, treatments, to blood transfusions. All of this happens and we tell her 'THIS will make you better and healthy again'.
How can a child make sense of that silly statement?
We look around and realize we are not alone, we are not the only ones with a very sick child. There are many children that are ill, or have cancer, just like Payton. She is not the only one.
We are not the only ones. Children have made it through this. We focus on the TREATments. They are treating. They know what is wrong and there is an answer. She has a long journey ahead and we have to focus on the positive.
We are thankful for the kindness our family has received from our friends, family and community, and thank you everyone for loving our little girl."
~ Cheyenne and Andrea