Brave the Shave Honorees
The kids are truly the reason behind Brave the Shave. We want to celebrate their strength and bravery together.
Do you know of a child who battled cancer, or who is currently undergoing treatment? With parental permission, we would like to honor him or her at our event along with our other Brave the Shave honorees. Please contact Taner Ohlsen at 701-527-7013.
For Brave the Shave Honoree Kids and Families
If you are a Brave the Shave honoree family with a request, please fill out the Brave the Shave Request Form to be considered for support from the Brave the Shave Family Fund and/or Bismarck Cancer Center Foundation.
Get to Know Some of our Honorees
Myles Allen, forever seven-years-old, from West Fargo, ND. Diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma in 2016 when he was three.
We’ve never met an honoree more dapper than seven-year-old Myles from West Fargo. He ALWAYS had to look “handsome” from the top of his head down to his feet. His favorite clothing items would consist of collared, button-up shirts, suits and his fedora hat. He was a young boy with an old soul. Also known as Smyles because of his exuberant grin, he loved the color blue, Marvel, Transformers, YouTube, dancing, Friday movie nights, horror films, art projects and Halloween. It was all gone too soon when his mom lost her soul mate, his daddy lost his armor and his brother lost his best friend on January 8 of this year. Myles initially responded well to treatment, but twice the cancer returned. Treatment made doing everyday activities like going to school, planning a vacation, and something as simple as swimming very difficult. His family was forced to relocate multiple times for treatment which made finding work complicated, especially because treatment forced his parents to be at his bedside. But it also brought out the best characteristics in his family, such as perseverance, gratitude, determination, faith and hope.
His mom, Monique, said she misses “his smile, laugh, love and tenderness; our dates to Target and Walmart; his lively, yet quiet, and opinionated personality. He was wise beyond his years and quick-witted. I miss his one dimple on his right cheek bone when he would smile. I miss watching him laying around the house and playing on his iPad. I miss driving in the car and him asking to be the DJ. I miss our snuggles and conversations. I just miss my son.”
Zakk Arenz, 14-years-old, from Mandan, ND. Diagnosed with medulloblastoma on January 14, 2016 and completed traditional treatment on November 25, 2016. Though standard treatment is finished, he still continues weekly preventative treatments as directed by his oncology team. Zakk’s course of treatment consisted of surgery to remove the tumor, proton radiation in Florida and chemotherapy in Minneapolis. He has been considered “in remission” for two years, but he continues to have scans done every six months. He is now in ninth grade and has been active in tennis, golf, trap shooting, and swimming.
Leighton Backhaus, 13, from Bismarck, ND. Diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at age four. Leighton has been in remission for four years and is currently checked every year. He is in the seventh grade and deals with the lasting effects of “chemo brain.” It causes him to have a difficult time retaining and recalling information. He also has drop foot, which is a side-effect of Vincristine, a commonly used chemotherapy. This type of neuropathy causes him to walk heavily and makes running difficult. Leighton loves showing his animals, hunting, studying birds, and he has dreams of starting a chicken hatchery someday. His larger plan is to run a farm when he grows up.
Emma Basting, four-years-old, of Thompson, ND. Diagnosed with neuroblastoma on New Year’s Eve of 2017. Emma’s diagnosis and aggressive treatment have taken a toll on her young body with the most obvious being that she is paralyzed from the chest down, due to a tumor being wrapped around her thoracic spine, causing complete spinal cord injury from T1-T7. Because of her paralysis, Emma has a difficult time clearing her lungs when she gets ill, so she depends on oxygen, a BiPap machine, and a nebulizer to support her breathing and a vest that vibrates to help her clear her lungs.
After having spent so much time in hospitals, Emma is happy to be done with treatments and home with her younger brother, Jack, though she stays very busy with multiple clinic visits, physical and occupational therapy both within and out-of-state, along with ongoing wheelchair adjustments.
Emma has recently been introduced to Hope, Inc. to take part in adaptive sports. She is a competitor. At her young age, she’s already competed in a wheelchair track meet. This spring she will be joining a wheelchair soccer league.
Today, Emma shows no evidence of active disease. She will continue to have scans every three months for the first year following treatment completion. Her family is hopeful that in 2024, she’ll be declared a survivor.
Oskar Binkard, five-years-old, of Fargo, ND. Diagnosed with B-CELL leukemia on November 6, 2017, three weeks prior to his third birthday. One week after his initial diagnosis it was found through genetic testing that Oskar has a genetic mutation on his Jak 2 gene which caused his leukemia to be very aggressive. With medication, his mutation has been able to be kept under control. His last two scans for the mutation have both been negative. On February 16th, 2017 Oskar’s family received the great news that he was in remission after completing the first two phases of treatment. He has been handling treatment beautifully so far. He continues to fight and will continue the maintenance phase of his treatment for the next two years. Oskar is hilarious and brightens a room with just his presence. He loves to dress up as characters from his favorite series, Star Wars, and he can regularly be found chasing hospital staff in his Chewbacca outfit while making wookiee sounds. Oskar is an incredibly optimistic little boy and even on the hardest of days he will look at us a say, “It’s a perfect day.”
Grace Bittner, forever age nine, from Dickinson, ND. Diagnosed with a Hypothalamic/Optic Glioma at 4 1/2 months-old. Grace was on many different protocols of chemo throughout her first 3 1/2 years of life, just trying to keep the tumor stable or shrink it. She has had two attempts at tumor resections, at age six-months in 2010 and at age 3 1/2 years in 2014. The tumor and surgeries have caused vision impairment, mobility issues, right-sided weakness, delayed development. Also, most of her feedings are done through a feeding tube, she has a drain for fluid build-up in her abdomen and other issues that affect her daily. After her surgery in 2014, she was placed on a MeK Inhibitor that allowed her to make some progress in her healing and gain some strength, but also required countless blood transfusions. After three years, the drug was no longer working and we saw increased growth in the brain tumor, so she was switched to another targeted therapy drug as one of the last hopes in stopping the tumor from growing. Grace passed away on July 7, 2019. She was able to amaze people every day with her determination and love This is why she is known as Amazing Grace. The simplest things brought her the most joy and yet, she brought so much joy to those who get to spend time with her. Go Grace Go!
Kali Grace Coffey, forever three and a half, from Menoken, ND. Diagnosed with ependymoma tumor in February of 2013. After a brave 15-month battle, Kali won her fight against cancer and gained her angel wings on May 4, 2014. People never forget Kali after they met her. There was something about her was magical. Her smile, her sweet voice, and her love for Minnie Mouse are things that will always be remembered. Kali’s compassion for other kids was also a remarkable trait. Her parents miss everything about Kali like the way she would rub her hand on her mom’s face and wipe tears away. They miss the smell of her bald head, often waking up nose-to-nose with her. She had a giggle that was infectious and is greatly missed.
In memory of Kali, her parents created the Kali Grace & Minnie Mouse Toy Drive. The toys that are collected during the months of August through December and distributed between Bismarck’s two hospitals. The toy drive kicks off on Kali’s birthday, August 13, and runs through Christmas. They are given to any child 0-18 in the hospital due to surgeries, injuries, or cancer treatment. What a wonderful way to honor their daughter! You can visit their facebook page.
Aeryn DeKrey, nine, from Grand Forks, ND. Diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and thrombocytopenia on May 14, 2014. She did a bone marrow transplant in October of 2014 and stayed inpatient for just shy of a month. She then switched to outpatient and stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester, MN for another month. She has been in remission for three and a half years and now does checkups every six months. Aeryn was able to return to preschool in May of 2016, but it took a long time for her immune system to build up again so she was sick often throughout the next two years. She has been very healthy this school year and is now in first grade. She also battles asthma which is a common side-effect of bone marrow transplant recipients. Like many cancer survivors, treatment has had side-effects emotionally and mentally. Aeryn is in therapy currently for a serious needle phobia and she has had to work on understanding her emotions, such as anger and sadness, and how to control them better. She loves to read books as well as writing and illustrating her own books.
Phoenix Ellis, forever age 11, of Minot, ND. Diagnosed in September 2019 with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Phoenix was a naturally gifted musician. He taught himself how to read sheet music and played the saxophone and piano. He was also intrigued by geography; particularly maps, cities, populations and interesting facts about each state. His future was bright, but cancer didn’t care. Phoenix’s entire family was greatly impacted. Being from Minot, his mom, Maranda, and two little sisters, lived four and a half hours from the children’s hospital and cancer center. From the diagnosis on, they spent nearly all of their time living at the hospital or Ronald McDonald house in Fargo. “We were very displaced; however, cancer and treatment also brought the most beautiful people into our lives. The kids and I really got to see the good side of humanity and I’m so glad we got to experience that,” said Maranda. Maranda also feels that cancer brought out strengths in herself and her kids including being able to talk about their feelings, being more present with one another and being selfless. She continued, “We all made sacrifices to try to save Phoenix’s life.” Sadly, an infection ravaged his body and with an immune system that was depleted by chemotherapy, his body was not able to fight it.
He passed away on February 4, 2020. Phoenix was a gift to all and was taken too soon but this uncaring, nondiscriminatory monster that we call pediatric cancer. His mom said, “I miss his voice and his resilience. He was intubated the last four weeks of his life, so I never got to hear him speak again. And his resilience throughout his entire life, not just during cancer, was beyond inspiring. I drew a lot of strength from watching him overcome so many different obstacles.”
Colton Fougner, age four, of Williston, ND. Diagnosed at 14-months-old with embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma and after successful treatment, he is currently not on treatment.
Colton received six weeks of proton beam radiation at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN as well frequent trips to Bismarck for chemotherapy, scans and bloodwork. He is now cancer-free, which allows more time for him to focus on doing the job that he loves most; being a big brother. Colton continues to follow up with his doctor in Bismarck and do scans every three months.
John David Freer, forever 9, of Langdon, ND. Diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancer in nerve tissue in the adrenal gland, neck, chest or spinal cord, at three and a half years old.
John would go through nearly two years of treatment until he was considered in remission. Two years later in September of 2015, John’s cancer returned with a vengeance. He fought like a true warrior and superhero; however, on March 2, 2018, John gained his heavenly wings. He was no longer in pain. John’s mother Carey described treatment as being equivalent to hell. Besides having to watch her youngest boy endure the struggles and pain of treatment, there was mounds of stress from not knowing what the next steps would be, to trying to keep everyone on the same page while Rory worked and Carey was in the hospital with John. They were a family separated. To help ease some of this pain, Skype was used frequently so the family could see each other. The family leaned heavily on their faith in God, and also their family and friends. The Langdon community was unbelievably supportive of the Freer family. “Brave the Shave has been an awesome source of support, both financially and by allowing us to network with other families who are going through similar things,” said Carey.
No matter how tough treatment got, John always had a smile on his face. He loved to ask questions and always worried more about others than himself. Each of John’s family members misses something specific about him. Rory misses his son’s attitude and laugh. Carey misses just seeing his beautiful face. Brock and Edward, miss having their little brother and seeing him everyday. One thing they all agree on is that they all miss John’s big hugs.
Karee Jo Garmann, 15, of Watford City, ND. Diagnosed with pluropulmonary blastoma on January 3, 2013 at eight-years-old. After 14 months of chemotherapy and an additional nine-months being cancer-free, she relapsed in December of 2014, resulting in another 11 months of treatment including chemo and radiation. She has now been cancer free for over three years.
The weekend before her last chemo treatment Karee Jo wanted to audition for a chance to go to Florida to act in front of directors, agents, and producers. They discovered that she was very good at it so she began working with acting coaches via Skype for six months. She had a blast! At that time agent’s were calling so her family decided to give her her dream and she and her mother relocated to Los Angeles, CA in December of 2016. Missing life in North Dakota, they recently returned home.
Karee Jo’s vision is to inspire and be a good role model to other kids battling cancer. Her message is to never give up. She has been in a few films and she’s most proud of her Disney/Pixar documentary “In the Driver’s Seat” on YouTube. It’s an inspirational piece that talks about her battle.
Karee started racecar driving when she was eight and says her dad taught her everything she knows about racing. She drives her own 1/2 scale Jr Dragster and has won the track championship two years in a row and qualified for Worlds in October 2019 and raced in Memphis. Her biggest accomplishment, however, is beating cancer. Karee Jo is happy to say she has been cancer free for more than four years. Karee Jo’s vision is to inspire and be a good role model to other kids battling cancer. Her message is to never give up and she believes that anything is possible.
Levi Gartner, five-years-old, of Menoken, ND. Diagnosed just prior to his second birthday with stage four high-risk neuroblastoma. He is pretty excited about turning six this year on April 4, the day of our Flagship Event. Levi did five rounds of chemo then had surgery to remove his primary tumor. The tumor was pressing on his aorta and wrapped around his kidney and doctors were not able to save the kidney. Levi then went through high dose chemo, which brought on near fatal complications. Once recovered from the complications, he did 20 rounds of Proton beam radiation and six months of IV immunotherapy followed by six months of oral immunotherapy. He is currently considered stable and goes to Minneapolis every three months for scans, although he experiencing some bumps in the road related to his adrenal gland and liver, which are all complications from chemo. He is also being treated for hemochromatosis from getting multiple blood and platelet transfusions. He goes in monthly to have large amounts of blood pulled. He continues to get stronger by going to PT, speech and preschool. Levi and his family have created a team to raise money for Brave the Shave. View their page here. Levi’s dad, Joe, is a firefighter in Bismarck who recently purchased a vintage firetruck that he decorated in gold decals to bring awareness to pediatric cancer. It also has the names of the Brave the Shave kids on it. Levi is all boy and loves John Deere tractors, any firetruck and horses. He recently won his first trophy for doing lead line with his sister’s pony, Hogan. He is also an experienced Play-Doh sculptor, demolisher of any cucumber and a cuddler who is known by those around him to give some of the best hugs in the tri-state area.
Brayden Goehring, age 15, of Herried, SD. Diagnosed with Stage 1 localized Burkitts lymphoma on September 28, 2017. Brayden received two rounds of chemotherapy and has been “cancer free” since November of 2017. He is currently checked every three months by his oncology team at Sanford Children’s Hospital in Fargo.
Brayden is in the eighth grade and is actively involved in band, student council and 4-H where he shows registered Hereford cattle. He also enjoys hunting and fishing. He is a big fan of NDSU athletics and during treatment even received a visit from athletes from the basketball, baseball, track, softball, wrestling, golf and football teams. Even Thundar, the team mascot, came by to meet this fighter.
Kleigha Guthmiller, four-years-old, from Bismarck, ND. Diagnosed with stage II CNS neuroblastoma on June 13, 2016. In October of 2019 Kleigha’s CT scans looked good! Her oncologist would like to see her back in 2020 for an ultrasound of the chest and a urine test, but no more CT scans due to the radiation. If the ultrasound in 2020 looks good we will not be going back to Mayo, but will follow up with Kleigha’s pediatrician each year and follow what she sees fit. Her parents, Dustin and Kyla are so glad for the awesome news! Kyla said, “Thanks for everyone’s continued prayers and support throughout this journey. We couldn’t have done it without you! It is hard to believe this journey started three and a half years ago. We have a strong girl who is a fighter on our hands and next year we plan celebrate another victory and say SHE WON!” Dustin, is shaving again this year. You can donate to his fundraiser here.
Monica Hatch from Sykeston, ND: Forever age 14. Diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma at age 11. Throughout all three years of treatment, Monica continued to play basketball and volleyball saying “I may have cancer, but it doesn’t have me.” She made jewelry and quilts during treatment to keep her fingers flexible and she donated them, along with Christmas and Easter baskets, to the children’s hospital. Monica did a combined total of 62 rounds of chemo and six weeks of radiation. During the last twelve rounds, it was known that nothing more could be done. The tumor had taken over her entire body including her brain and brainstem. It weighed 22 pounds when she passed. She had asked that it be donated to a research center in order to help the next child. Because of her, there is a pediatric palliative care unit at the children’s hospital in Fargo. she didn’t want to die at home, leaving that memory for her little brother. Because of her request, the nurses learned with her how to do palliative care for pediatrics. To this day, children are aided by her courageous acts. She lived her life by the motto of “live each day as it comes to the fullest because God never promised tomorrow.” She proved her commitment to her motto by going fishing in her favorite spot two days before she passed. Monica earned her wings on August 18, 2007.
Aspen Heisler, age ten, from Rugby, ND. Diagnosed at age one. He received two years of chemotherapy/treatment as well as many surgeries. Aspen currently wears a back brace and suffers from scoliosis and damage to his spine from treatment. He will need more surgeries in the future, but Aspen officially entered the survivorship program in June of 2017. He dreams of playing hockey but because of side-effects of treatment, he will not be able to play. Undeterred, he insisted on learning to skate so that he could carry the flag at the Bismarck Bobcats Brave the Shave night. After hours of practice on the ice, he became a Junior Bobcat in March of this year and proudly carried the flag around the entire rink.
Chase Jones, seven-years-old, from Granville, ND. Diagnosed on November 3rd, 2016 with Philadelphia Chromosome positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. It started as a sore ankle, but after one trip to the doctor and a steady progression to the point of excruciating pain and not being able to walk, bloodwork revealed he likely had Leukemia. Chase has had many complications during treatment including reactions to Chemo, a seizure with bleeding on the brain, and pneumonia that created an abscess, ultimately resulting in a lobectomy on the lower portion of his left lung. Chase’s bone marrow biopsies have been negative thus far, and all of his oral chemos have been put on hold. He continues to take Gleevac (Imatinib) to suppress the Philadelphia Chromosome. Chase is attending half days of school when possible and is enjoying being at home with his brother and sister. Chase’s dad, Doug, is raising money for the Flagship Event. Click here to view his page.
Haylee Jundt, age 14, from Rugby, ND. Haylee was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 2a with bulky disease on October 23rd, 2018. Since then, she has undergone four rounds of chemotherapy. She had a scan is February of this year that showed “cancer free.” She is currently doing proton beam radiation therapy at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Her love for hockey is large and the immense support of the Jundt’s hockey family has been so appreciated! Haylee is currently in seventh grade and she has continued to play on both of her teams when she is not doing treatment and as a result she has been an inspiration to so many people. She also enjoys playing volleyball and when given a chance to be in the outdoors, she loves hunting, fishing, and camping. Haylee always seems to have a smile on her face and has always seen the positive and had determination, even on her bad days.
Jadyn Keller, age eight, of Harvey, ND. Diagnosed with pre-B-CELL Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Diagnosed on September 23, 2013 at 21 months of age. Jadyn is currently in remission with his last treatment being in November of 2016. After treatment he did an additional six months of IVIG transfusions due to immune issues. After treatment he did an additional six months of IVIG transfusions due to immune issues. Jadyn’s passions are hunting and fishing! He and his dad shave their heads together each year at the Flagship Event. Also, Jadyn became a big brother and loves spending time with his brother, Rhett! Jadyn has created his own fundraiser this year for the Flagship Event. View his page here.
Landon LaBine, nine, of Warren, MN. Diagnosed at age two on February 12, 2013 with a Stage 1 Astrocytoma embedded at mid-brain in the brain stem. He had a partial resection surgery allowing for 50% of the tumor to be removed. After 15 months of chemotherapy, Landon went into remission. He relapsed in August of 2016. He completed treatment again in September of 2017, but in February of 2019 his scans were again unstable. In March, the family decided to try a fairly new procedure known as laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT). During this surgery doctors were able to essentially burn the tumor from the inside outward. The neurosurgeon was able to remove almost 90% of Landon‘s tumor during the surgery. Landon was eating within hours after the surgery, he was up walking, laughing and playing the next morning. In May Landon began a postoperative chemotherapy treatment which he is still taking. A January 2020 MRI showed that the tumor is still shrinking and responding to treatment. Landon is a fighter. His tumor is currently stable, but his bone marrow has been damaged so doctors are working to repair his bone marrow so that he can restart chemo again. When he grows up, he wants to help others by being a doctor. Landon continues to fight. He is in the third grade and loves fishing, four-wheeling, snowmobiling, and camping. This sweet child is known for helping everyone around him. He is famous for his hugs and becomes a friend to everyone he meets.
Landon LaVallie, forever 5, from Bismarck, ND. Diagnosed on Aug 3, 2014 with stage four hepatoblastoma, a very rare tumor that starts in the liver. He had a smile on his face and a giggle in his throat the last nine months he was with us. His giggle was full of life and so contagious. Landon LOVED his Matchbox cars! He loved Justin Bieber since he was two and and went all out when singing his songs. He has four brothers that he enjoyed having by his side, especially his twin who was his constant companion. The thing most people remember about Landon is his happy spirit. A person could never leave a visit with him without getting a hug or a kiss. Landon gained his beautiful wings on June 1, 2015.
William Moran, eight-years-old, from Lincoln, ND. Diagnosed with medulloblastoma on June 25, 2018 at age 6. Medulloblastoma is a form of brain cancer that accounts for 18% of all pediatric brain tumors. After tumor resection, William received 30 radiation treatments and six months of chemotherapy treatments. He just completed treatment on the 13th of March and is now recovering. He is the oldest of four children and loves his brother and sisters. William is an avid Lego builder and dreams of becoming an architect when he grows up. Aside from building with his Legos, he loves Minecraft, hockey, his dog Boe and he can’t wait to play tennis again in the summer. He also intends to do as much fishing and camping as possible just as soon as the weather cooperates!
Jillian Nordsven, seven-years-old, from Bismarck, ND. Diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma. She was diagnosed at two-months-old and has been in remission for about three years until her cancer came back. She then went through another year of treatment and is now stable. Due to the experimental treatments that Jillian had at such a young age, there isn’t a significant amount of clarity for future implications of treatment or reoccurrence. She is monitored annually for the next few years until she is 13, at which point additional monitoring will be necessary for secondary cancers.
Jillian is blind in one eye as a result of her cancer, and continues to have checkups in New York City every six months for monitoring of her condition. She enjoys dancing, drawing, playing with her older brother, Russell, and spending time with animals; especially her two dogs.
Mya Noreen, three, from Fargo, ND. Diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). When Mya, of Fargo, grows up, she wants to be a doctor by day, firefighter by night. When she’s not chasing fires, she’s a loving sister who likes to be a mama bear to her siblings: twin brother, Elijah, and one-year-old brother, Levi. A social butterfly, she is eager to start school next year.
Mya has been in this fight for the past year, and she is currently in the maintenance phase of treatment, requiring monthly treatments, steroids and home-based chemotherapy.
After a tough year of side-effects from her aggressive treatment plan, Mya is currently doing very well and has been enjoying the maintenance phase, though her medications have left her immunocompromised, which can often limit social interactions. Mya is ready to be around more people, so that she can play!
Dash Ohlsen, 13-years-old, from Bismarck, ND. Diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at age seven. He completed treatment in May of 2017, rang the bell, and is cancer free! He continues to have annual check-ups with his oncologist, who always claims that Dash is “boring.” Boring to an oncologist is exactly what a person wants to be!
Dash is active in sports including soccer, track, and baseball. He loves his pet bearded dragon, boa constrictor and two dogs. He likes spending time with his family hunting, fishing and camping. He also enjoys snowboarding with his brother, Chaz, who in the past has been a top fundraiser for Brave the Shave when he shaves his head. Dash’s dad, Taner, will be shaving again this year at the Flagship Event. View his page here.
Cullen Oothoudt, forever age four, from Mandan, ND. Diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a cancerous brain tumor, in November of 2015 just after turning three. The week after Cully’s fourth birthday, his cancer returned. As soon as one birthday was over, he was already planning the next party and he spent many hours discussing how it would all go down. His parents didn’t want to wait an entire year for his actual birthday so he had several “unbirthday parties” in order to carry out all the plans he created. Each unbirthday party always included presents and a cake made to his specifications. Cully passed away on August 6, 2017, one month shy of his fifth birthday.
Having a child diagnosed with cancer and losing him was by far the most difficult thing the Oothoudt family has been through, but it also made them appreciate what is important. They say that after Cully was diagnosed, it’s very possible that he never heard the word no again. “We had Cully for less than five years, but in that short time, we tried to give him the world. He loved and knew what it was like to be truly loved,” says his mom, Randi. His family honors his memory by continuing to raise funds for Brave the Shave. Visit his mom’s page, here.
Cooper Peterson, six, of Lincoln, ND. Diagnosed with a Bilateral Optic Pathway Glioma on February 26, 2015 when he was ten-months-old. In December of 2015 Cooper’s tumor was upgraded from a Grade I Pylocytic Astrocytoma to a Diffuse Fibrillary Astrocytoma Grade II. After three years of treatment and a lot of tumor growth throughout his brain, he was recently told that there is finally tumor shrinkage. Super Cooper, as he has become known amongst friends and family, may have lost his sight to his tumor, but he has not lost his fight. He battles on and continues his journey. Cooper’s dad, Al, has decided to raise money for Brave the Shave. You can donate to his effort by clicking here.
Silas Rehbein, now age seven, of Dickinson, ND. Diagnosed with Acute B-CELL Lymphoblastic Leukemia on October 28, 2016 when he was only four. He fought his way through three and a half years of chemotherapy treatments and took his last dose on January 3, 2020. Silas is on schedule for port removal and bell ringing in the next couple of months. His mom, Savannah said, “Thank you, Brave the Shave, for being there for our family, and reminding us that we never fight alone.”
Jiry Rosecrans, 14, from Langdon, ND. Diagnosed with craniopharyngioma, a rare brain tumor on May 4, 2015. Because of the location, surgery was not able to remove much so she had six weeks of proton beam radiation.
It has been a difficult road for Jiry. She deals with frequent headaches, fatigue, somnolence syndrome, hypothalamic obesity, musculoskeletal pain in multiple joints, diabetes insepidous, panhypopituitarism, cognitive disability, adrenal insufficiency, growth hormone deficiency, and hypothyroidism. She essentially has no peripheral vision and doctors are not sure what the cause is and won’t risk surgery until she is basically blind. Her retina is thinning also, which has lead to a huge loss of her acuity vision. The year and a half of chemo that she received caused kidney damage, an enlarged heart, and weakened blood vessels. There is no cure for Jiry’s tumor. It isn’t responding well to treatments.
With all that she faces, Jiry tries to make everyone feel good even though she is the one that needs the pick-me-up. She is involved in Girl Scouts and enjoyed meeting her goal for selling cookies and she also recently passed hunter safety. Her medications have taken a toll on her psychologically and the changes are tough on her younger siblings. For Jiry, the battle continues.
Haley Schallmo, 16, from Dickinson, ND. Diagnosed with Philadelphia + Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in May 2016 at age 12. She is currently in remission from the leukemia but the PH + chromosome has been detectable in her bone marrow biopsies for the last year and a half. Her body is unable to handle the side effects of the chemo so all treatment has been stopped except for her TKI inhibitor (Bosulif) that suppresses the PH chromosome. We are currently just praying this is enough to prevent a recurrence of the leukemia.
Hunter Seifert, forever age 16, of Bismarck, ND. Diagnosed with stage IV alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma in October of 2016. Hunter went through 42 weeks of chemo and was considered cancer free for two months. He relapsed in October of 2017 and went to heaven on February 15 after two and a half year fight. Hunter loved sports at all levels and is a fan of NDSU, the Chicago Cubs, and he even supports the Miami Dolphins during the rebuilding years, which really is every year. He also loved Skittles, Wendy’s 4 for $4 family and friends, but he will always be remembered for his amazing and unwavering faith. His dad, Dan, will be shaving in Hunter’s memory. You can donate to Team Hunter here.
David Sickler, forever age six, from Mandan, ND. Diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a cancerous brainstem tumor, on January 16, 2004. On that day, the Sickler family was told something unimaginable. They were told that their son, David, was going to pass away, it was only a matter of when. There is no cure for DIPG. David’s parents noticed that he had a “floating” right eye, where his left eye would remain stationary and his right eye would turn in. After trips to their pediatrician, an ophthalmologist and a pediatric neurologist, they believed it could be strabismus, but needed an MRI to rule out everything else. Unfortunately, the doctors were wrong and upon finding the tumor, knew that David, lovingly known as Brave Dave, was in immediate danger.
Within an hour, David and his family were on their way to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Over the next several months, David would endure 31 rounds of radiation in an attempt to shrink the tumor. Doctors told his parents this would help with his symptoms and give them a little more time with their sweet boy. Initially doctors said that David would need to be sedated for each round of radiation, as he would need to remain perfectly still throughout the treatment. David showed them all! From his first appointment, David hopped up onto the table and laid completely still throughout the entire time. He never once needed to be sedated! After his first appointment his mom told him just how incredibly brave he was, and it was at that moment that David proclaimed himself as Brave Dave!
David’s treatment also consisted of high dose steroids to keep brain swelling to a minimum. This caused 24-hour hunger, severe mood swings and swelling throughout the rest of David’s body. Over the next seven months, David went from being a very active boy who loved playing t-ball, fishing, school and everything to do with Spiderman, to a little boy that lost every function of his body. This of course broke David’s family’s hearts to watch him quickly lose his abilities to the point that he eventually could no longer eat. On August 23, 2004, at the age of six, David “Brave Dave” Sickler passed away with his family by his side.
Throughout his treatment, David never once lost his courage and never once complained. David taught everyone that knew and loved him the true meaning of compassion, strength and love. He taught others to appreciate their loved ones, for they can be fighting for their lives and gone in the blink of an eye. “There isn’t one thing I don’t miss about David each and every day,” said his mom, Lora. “I was truly blessed for God to chose me to be David’s mom. We love and miss you Brave Dave!”
Mason Stehley, age nine, from Minot, ND. Diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in October of 2017. Mason’s favorite color is orange. In fact, he even dyed his hair orange for Leukemia Awareness Month in September, and he loved it so much that he kept it. In keeping with love of all things orange, his favorite team is the Cincinnati Bengals. After graduation, Mason wants to be a YouTube gamer and has a goal to compete in American Ninja Warrior. Mason has been fighting Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) since he was seven. His three and a half-year treatment plan is expected to finally be completed in December of 2020.
Mason’s fight hasn’t been without setbacks. Six months into treatment and during an intensive chemotherapy cycle, Mason got a life-threatening infection in his abdomen, leading to severe inflammation in his abdomen and an appendix rupture. He spent a month in the hospital, and ultimately had his appendix removed. This time was exasperated by a couple bouts of pneumonia and RSV, requiring more hospital stays, but he has recovered well each time.
Sky Stevens, forever age 4, from Lincoln, ND. Diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a cancerous brainstem tumor, on March 25, 2015. Her family was devastated when told that she would likely only live for nine months. Sky showed her spunk and fighting personality by surpassing all expectations and lived with DIPG for an almost unheard of 31 months. She bravely gained her wings on October 24, 2017. Her family is raising money this year in her memory. If you’d like to donate you can do so by clicking here.
Jerry Stewart, forever age 4, from Williston, ND. Posthumously diagnosed with pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma, a cancerous brain tumor. Jerry’s parents, Ian and Rachael, had no idea what lurked beneath the surface of their rambunctious, fun-loving, four-year-old son. Jer or JerBear, as his family calls him, had bright red hair and an ability to draw people together. He laughed easily, played hard and always had a twinkle in his eye. Without warning, he had a seizure on May 20, 2019. He was rushed to the hospital in Williston where a scan revealed a mass in his brain. He was then flown to Fargo where he underwent surgery the next morning to remove the mass. Due to a stroke, Jerry only survived for five days after his surgery and passed away on May 26, 2019 at the age of four. To get them through these hard times, his family now leans on the memories of Jer’s constant joy and ability to show everyone his love. “I miss everything about him,” said his big brother, Lachlan. Rachael, said that they honestly can’t decide on one thing that they miss most about Jer. “We miss his infectious, hysterical laugh, his twinkly eyes, listening to his sweet voice singing to his baby brother, and his exuberance for life.” In his own words, every day for Jer was “Da best day ever!”
Mia Thinnes, 14-years-old, from Bismarck, ND. Diagnosed on July 8, 2010 at age six with medulloblastoma, a cancerous brain tumor. She was also diagnosed at age ten on October 16, 2014 with a thyroid tumor, which was a secondary cancer as a result of the radiation received on the brain tumor. Because of the radiation, Mia had surgery for pediatric cataracts in 2012. She had her thyroid removed and is currently doing well apart from some side effects from treatment, such as slight hearing loss in her left ear. She loves to read and visits the library regularly. Her new favorite thing is books on CD. She’s involved in archery and is excited to enter her first tournament. She continues to have MRI scans annually at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.
Jeffrey Trones, 15, from Williston, ND. Diagnosed in August of 2014 at age nine with Ewing’s sarcoma. He relapsed in December of 2015 at age 11 and has now been in remission for three and a half years, but he continues to receive pamidronate infusions every four months. After amputation of his left leg below the knee, recurrent bone fractures have been an on-going challenge for Jeffrey, including breaks in his femur, radius and left wrist. He is now starting growth hormone therapy which will prompt bone growth and also help to strengthen his bones.
Jeffrey enjoys hunting and fishing and recently was able to take part in a hunt in Colorado.
Emma Wheeler, forever 14, from Bismarck, ND. Emma was hospitalized in Bismarck on September 17, 2017 with what was thought was just be mono. After repetitive testing, the doctors thought it could be lymphoma and Emma was transported via ambulance to Fargo on the 19th of September. It was there that she was diagnosed with Hemophagocytic Lymphohystiosytosis (HLH) which is not cancer, but is treated with chemo. HLH is extremely rare & very deadly. After weeks of chemo the Sanford Children’s team wanted to go back to their original thought and on October 26, 2017 in addition to HLH, Emma was diagnosed with aggressive Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL). Emma went through many rounds of chemo, multiple surgeries, and more. She hated bandaids with a passion and at one point was heard down the halls of the PICU screaming for anesthesia just to have one removed. Emma was a character, full of life, humor, smiles and love. On November 8th Emma’s kidneys were failing. We were then life flighted to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. Emma was intubated two days later and placed on dialysis. All of her organs began to fail and we knew her journey on earth was over. On November 14, 2017, just 55 days after her original diagnosis, we held Emma one more time as she gained her wings & Heaven became her home.
Kyle White, age five, of Sturgis, SD; formerly of Bismarck, ND. Diagnosed with Wilms tumor stage 4. He has finished treatment and handled everything amazingly well. His tumor was found the day after Halloween in 2017. He seemed fine and had a regularly scheduled check-up. His mother asked the doctor about a lump she had noticed on his side.
Kyle had to take a different route than typical treatment plan used with the Wilms tumors. Because his tumor was so large, he had to wait for surgery and chemotherapy was started first to shrink it. He had a successful surgery to remove the Wilms tumor along with one of his kidneys, adrenal gland, and a few lymph nodes. He also received two and a half weeks of radiation to the abdomen and lungs and required another surgery removed the stubborn lung nodules. He completed chemo in July of 2018. Kyle is dealing with some side effects from treatment, but overall his family is happy with its success and how well he responded to it. He continues to do scans every six months and this year, he will be two years cancer-free!
Kyle has decided that his favorite color is gold which is very fitting. He loves anything to do with superheroes, especially Iron Man. He has gotten back to rough housing with his brothers and is starting to fill out a little more now. He LOVES his nice thick hair he has now too.