Brave 5-year-old leukaemia patient becomes a real-life princess

Five-year-old Payton Pillay became a real-life princess. Picture: Supplied

Five-year-old Payton Pillay became a real-life princess. Picture: Supplied

Published Feb 11, 2024


Payton Pillay Pillay is a spirited five-year-old who is facing a great challenge. She has been diagnosed with leukaemia and has bravely been undergoing treatment at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital.

Despite her condition, Payton had an enchanting dream that filled her heart with hope. She longed to be transformed into a real-life princess, just like her favourite storybook character, Cinderella. And as if by magic, the kind folks at Reach For a Dream decided to make Payton’s dream come true.

Five-year-old Payton Pillay became a real-life princess. Picture: Facebook

Excitement filled the air as the special day arrived. Payton’s eyes sparkled with joy as she was dressed in a beautiful Cinderella gown. A shimmering tiara adorned her head, making her feel like a true princess. As she stepped outside, a magnificent white horse awaited her, ready to take her on a magical journey.

With a gentle smile, Payton mounted the horse and began her grand adventure. The wind whispered through her hair as they trotted through the streets of

Mossel Bay. People waved and cheered, enchanted by the sight of this real-life princess.

Payton’s laughter danced in the air as she rode through the town. Her heart overflowed with happiness and gratitude for this extraordinary experience. She waved to all she encountered, spreading joy wherever she went.

Reach For A Dream’s Eastern Cape branch manager, Lwanele Mpeta, said when Payton visited the hospital’s oncology rooms, her doctor contacted the foundation and Payton’s dream was realised.

“Their lives completely changed in an instant when Payton was diagnosed with cancer. From a normal routine of work, school and extracurricular activities, the parents suddenly had to face the reality of their child being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness,” explained Mpeta.

“Initially, admitted to a hospital in Mossel Bay, they had to transfer to the Red Cross Hospital in Cape Town for specialised paediatric oncology care and tests.

“The confirmation from the oncologist that Payton had leukaemia was a difficult moment for her mother Renay to accept, and within a week of her diagnosis, Payton started a rigorous regime of intense chemotherapy that lasted six weeks.”

When Reach for a Dream requested an interview with Payton and asked her what her biggest dream was, she expressed her desire to be a princess and to ride a horse.

“We just knew we had to make her dream come true,” said Mpeta.

“We arranged a magical trip to the enchanting Outeniqua Moon in Mossel Bay, where we transformed her into a real-life princess with a Cinderella gown and a sparkling tiara.

Five-year-old Payton Pillay became a real-life princess. Picture: Facebook

“Then came the moment that took her breath away – meeting Shadowfax, South Africa’s largest horse.

“Fearlessly mounting majestic Shadowfax, Payton’s adventurous spirit and determination were on full display.

“The anticipation in the air was palpable as the colossal horse welcomed its brave rider with grace and strength.

“We wrapped up the day with an enchanting carriage ride, filled with giggles, bonding, and picturesque views that seemed straight out of a storybook.”

As the sun began to set, Payton’s magical journey came to an end. But the memories of this special day would forever remain etched in her heart.

The day was made more special due to the generous sponsorship from Outeniqua Moon, who provided the horse ride, and Outeniqua Game Farm’s Bow & Arrow Restaurant, who provided the meals.

“This act of kindness allowed everyone to indulge in delicious treats and quench their thirst during the carriage ride.

“Reach For A Dream supplied her princess outfit, accessories and gift box,” Mpeta said.

Last year, Reach For A Dream fulfilled 2 067 dreams – an average of 5.6 dreams a day. Since 1988, Reach For A Dream has made 27 670 dreams come true.

If you’d like to support, please visit for more information.

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