Dance recital held early for dad with brain cancer

Published: May. 10, 2023 at 10:18 PM CDT
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HIAWATHA, Iowa (KCRG) - A dance recital in Hiawatha took place early - to give a father the opportunity to see his daughter perform. That father, Stephen Stepanek, has aggressive brain cancer.

Stephen Stepanek was diagnosed with Glioblastoma in August of 2022.

”Fighting brain cancer is just it’s so hard and you can’t do it alone. And every patient and family going through this need the community behind,” said Brittney Stepanek, Stephen’s wife.

He’s had surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Seven months after his initial diagnosis, in March, the family was told Stephen’s cancer was recurrent, and treatments to slow the cancer weren’t working.

Now, they say they’re making the most of the time they have together.

Stephen’s 6-year-old daughter Sylvia dances at ‘The Dancers Edge’ in Hiawatha.

”Dance is my daughter’s happy place, and so for them to get behind her and our family just means so much because we know that they’re going to be there for her every step of the way through our fight now and for the rest of her career with them. And This is why we do dance because it gives her an outlet,” said Brittney.

Their annual recital typically takes place in June.

But with the uncertainty that comes with a cancer diagnosis, the dance studio helped make sure Stephen got the chance to see his daughter take the stage with a mini recital.

”Tonight’s just an example of gifts that they’ve given us memories that we could keep forever. And so we’re so thankful that all of these people have gone out of their way just to do one more act for us to make sure that we have a moment that we can keep,” said Brittney.

”To be able to give this opportunity when he’s well enough to come out and sit in the chair and watch his daughter with a smile on her face in her costume, whether it be on a stage or here in the dance. We’re just happy to provide the opportunity,” said Charlie Vogl, The Dancer’s Edge Co-Owner.

While emotions were running high during the performance, one in particular stuck out to the Stepanek family.

”Watching Sylvia dance tonight and also watching Stevens’s reaction is. Is really surreal because. You know, I fear that we may not get those moments in the future. It’s just, I’m so happy we made that happen tonight,” said Brittney.