It’s crazy how fast life can change. About a year ago, Tom DeKrey’s life was turned upside down when he received news that his 4-year-old granddaughter, Aeryn, had been diagnosed with cancer.
Just the day before, DeKrey finished moving his son Steve, his daughter-in-law Emilie, and his granddaughter from New York, back to North Dakota, where Emilie had accepted a job. The next day, May 16, 2014, little Aeryn was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and admitted to the Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo, ND. The doctors gave Aeryn a 30 percent chance of survival. “That was a pretty hard thing to take to say the least,” DeKrey says.
But with the support of many friends and family and lots of prayers, Aeryn was determined to beat those odds.
Aeryn’s treatments consisted of three rounds of chemotherapy and she went into remission. The next step was a bone marrow transplant. Soon after Aeryn’s name went on the bone marrow transplant registry, the DeKrey’s received news that the doctors had found a perfect 10/10 donor match. Aeryn and her family traveled to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, for her final chemotherapy treatment in September. Then, on October 3, 2014, Aeryn received her bone marrow transplant and remained at the Ronald McDonald House while her body healed and accepted the transplant.
Today, Aeryn is officially cancer-free and is in remission. “Her recovery has been a true miracle. It wouldn’t have been possible without the donations and cancer research that has made her a survivor,” DeKrey says.
DeKrey’s experience came full circle on March 13, 2015, when he went bald at Basin Electric’s eighth annual Brave the Shave event to raise money for children’s cancer research. “It’s a way for me to pay back for all of the research that has been done and for all of the support people have given my granddaughter,” DeKrey says.
Aeryn even had the honors of shaving her grandpa’s head. “I didn’t anticipate that. It was one of the greatest things in the world,” DeKrey says.
“What a fantastic opportunity for all the kids involved and their families. After all they have gone through, these kids can come together and play and just be kids,” DeKrey says. “I think this will be the first of many years of shaving for me.”
DeKrey set a goal of raising $1,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. He surpassed that goal, raising more than $1,375.
The 2015 Brave the Shave campaign raised more than $412,600. For more information on the campaign, visit bravetheshave.coop.
Watch the video to see DeKrey get shaved, hear from Aeryn’s parents, and see the smiles that were shared that day at the event.