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Nine-year-old giving cancer the boot!

Dyllen Yockey loves everything about being a cowboy. You can often find the 9-year-old outside riding horses or playing with a spread of toy farm animals at his home in Marshall, Minn.

Earlier this year, however, Dyllen started having severe stomach pain and wouldn’t play as much. His mom, Brittany Christensen, tried to comfort him, but she had an uneasy feeling.

“I had that mom instinct and I knew something was wrong,” Brittany said.

Before long, Dyllen had become so sick he needed to get to Sioux Falls by ambulance for specialized care. During surgery to remove an obstruction in his bowel, his surgeon discovered a baseball-sized tumor and knew just from looking at it that it was cancerous.

Dyllen was transferred to Sanford Children’s immediately to begin treatment for non-Hodgkin’s Burkitt lymphoma. His family struggled to accept the diagnosis.

“Our hearts were completely shattered,” Brittany said. “We were numb.”

She felt helpless seeing her spunky cowboy now fighting for his life.

“It’s hard to watch your child go through it. You can’t take it away,” she said.

Since his diagnosis, Dyllen and his family have relied on the Sanford Children’s pediatric oncology experts, nurses, staff and Child Life Specialists to get through the good and bad days.

“Dr. Daniel Calloway and the nurses here have been phenomenal with explaining to him that it is going to be OK and that he would feel much better once he went home,” Christensen said.

Donors to Sanford Cure Kids Cancer helped, too. Because of their generosity, patients like Dyllen benefit from specialized equipment, non-billed patient programs and services, and direct child and family assistance that helps with expenses not covered by insurance.

Today, Dyllen is doing great. He completed his last cancer treatment in August and has returned home filled with energy.

“It’s so good to see him run and jump on the trampoline or his imagination running wild like horses in the wind when he plays with his farm animals, which have over taken his room,” Brittany said. “It’s just so good to see him being a kid, not just the kid with cancer.”

You can help kids like Dyllen this September, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, by attending these great local events and supporting Cure Kids Cancer all month long in the Sioux Falls area:

Fareway Round Up for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

  • When: Sept. 1-15
  • Where: Fareway locations at 41st Street and Sycamore Avenue and in Harrisburg
  • How it works: Round up your bill to the nearest dollar and donate the change.

Primp Gives Back 

  • When: Sept. 6, 13, 20, 27
  • Where: Primp Boutique, 204 S. Phillips Ave.
  • How it works: Shop every Thursday in September from 5 to 8 p.m., Primp will donate 10 percent of proceeds.

Monkey Bizness Community Night

  • When: Sept. 22, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
  • Where: Monkey Bizness at 4805 S. Louise Ave.
  • How it works: Bring the whole family for a day of fun at the new indoor playground! Monkey Bizness will donate 30 percent of sales.

Acorn 19 – Bead Co.

  • When: Sept. 1-30
  • Where: 319 S. Phillips Ave.
  • How it works: When you purchase these custom earrings, Acorn 19 will donate the proceeds. Purchase in their store or online.

A League of Your Own

  • When: Sept. 1-30
  • Where: 218 S. Phillips Ave.
  • More details: Stop by and drop a donation to Sanford Cure Kids Cancer in the coin canister.

Mrs. Murphy’s Irish Gifts

  • When: Sept. 1-30
  • Where: 219 S. Phillips Ave.
  • More details: Stop by and drop a donation to Sanford Cure Kids Cancer in the coin canister.

Oh My Cupcakes! Gold Ribbons

  • When: Sept. 1-30
  • Where: 5015 S. Western Ave., Suite 290
  • More details: Add an edible gold ribbon to any cupcake for a $1 donation to Sanford Cure Kids Cancer.