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Leukemia society features local youngster

Spring Creek student "honoured patient"

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The face of Whistler resident Sierra Van Straaten will be on posters throughout Alberta and the Sea to Sky corridor next month. As part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of B.C.’s annual Pennies for Patients fundraising campaign, Van Straaten is the honoured patient or poster child.

The 12-year-old was diagnosed last May with a rare form of adult leukemia.

"There are only nine or 10 kids a year in North America who get this," said her mom, Lorna. A Grade 6 Spring Creek student, Van Straaten is currently in remission after treatment with a "designer drug" that targets cancer-causing stem cells.

"It’s such a new drug that doctors don’t know if she is just in remission or if she is cured," Lorna Van Straaten said.

This is the first year the society is working with businesses to raise funds. Last year $90,000 was raised toward research but Van Straaten thinks more could be raised by expanding the campaign beyond schools.

As the coordinator of the local campaign, Van Straaten, who also manages the Re-Use-It Centre, is asking businesses and schools to participate in the annual fundraiser by placing collection boxes on lunchroom or display counters. The campaign runs from Feb. 6 to 27. To pick up a collection box or for more information contact Lorna Van Straaten at 602-932-1815.