At age six, Rebekah Spader was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a potentially terminal form of bone marrow cancer. Over the next four years, she fought as hard as she could, but recently, a bone marrow transplant proved unsuccessful.

Following that news, Rebekah and her family made the tough decision to stop her treatments. While she was as much at peace as she could be with this decision, she knew this meant that she would miss out on many of the milestones that we often take for granted in life.

Then, her brother stunned her with a question she never saw coming…

When she was only six years old, Rebekah Spader was diagnosed with a terminal form of bone marrow cancer. For the next four years, the Sioux Falls, South Dakota native underwent constant treatments to battle her condition.


Unfortunately, Rebekah’s most recent bone marrow transplant was deemed ultimately unsuccessful. After that, she and her family made the difficult decision to stop her treatments. Still, she wanted to make as much out of the time she had left.


Rebekah and her family knew that she would miss out on most of the formative life experiences that many of us take for granted. It seemed so unfair that such a sweet little girl wouldn’t be able to enjoy what would have been, undoubtedly, great memories. That’s when her older brother, AJ, had an idea…


A freshman at nearby O’Gorman High School, AJ was preparing for his very first high school formal. Rather than ask a classmate to the dance, however, he realized this was his chance to make a special memory with his young sister.


“He’s thinking about his sister and she’s not going to get to go to the prom or the formal when she’s in high school because she’s probably not going to make it to high school, so he just wanted to give her that memory,” their dad, Tony, said in an interview.


Wearing a lovely navy blue dress and a tiara, the 10-year-old Rebekah was finally able to attend her very first high school formal! She got to eat dinner with her brother and his friends, too. What’s more: the dance even fell on Valentine’s Day, which made the moment even more sweet.


Doctors weren’t sure if Rebekah had a few more weeks or years left in life, so it was important that she experience as much as she could. Judging from the look on her face while she got ready for her big dance, she clearly was having the time of her life!

About six months after the high school dance, Rebekah passed away. It was a bittersweet moment that her brother was able to give her a beautiful memory while he still could. For more information about myelodysplastic syndrome and how to donate to help fund more research, please visit this website.

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