Tony and Danielle Becker live in Tea, SD, with their six children: Easten, Kasen, Hudsen, Izen, Vivian, and Rowan.  

In November of 2022, when Danielle Becker was 32 weeks pregnant, their family received devastating news: their four-year-old son, Izen, had a brain tumor. 

Izen had ependymoma, a type of tumor that can grow in the brain or spine.  

Immediately after hearing the news about Izen’s cancer, they threw a party with friends and family to celebrate him. They didn’t know what the road in front of them would look like, but they did know that their son was worth celebrating! This start helped define their cancer journey by celebrating each victory of IzenMan along the way!  

IzenMan was created when he had his PICC line placed. The Becker’s did their best to make a scary situation as positive as possible. Because of his PICC line, he became like Iron Man with a chest piece. IzenMan was going to be his own superhero!   

We will skip right to the good part: one year later, Izen is cancer-free!  

Though they celebrate how he is doing now, it was a tough year for the family. Izen had to quickly have brain surgery, which led to having to re-learn how to walk and talk. Re-learning to walk took a few weeks, and it took his speech one month to return to where he was before surgery. His brothers stepped up during this time to help Izen out!  

Surgery to remove the brain tumor was followed up with radiation. It was during Izen’s seven-week stay at Mayo for radiation that Tony and Danielle’s sixth child was born! Danielle had her daughter on a Thursday and was back in Rochester, with the newborn in tow, to be with Izen on Sunday.   

Anyone looking in on the Becker’s last year would be overwhelmed. Balancing six children, jobs, school, and Izen’s cancer journey took hard work.  

A theme for the Becker’s last year was community. 

With such a hard battle in front of them, they knew they needed help. Friends gave their other children rides, a sister came to live at their home during the week, there was a long-term meal train, and neighbors took care of snow removal. Izen’s preschool teacher even sent him videos, ensuring he knew there were things to look forward to after treatment. 

It can be difficult to let people in or ask for help when faced with hard circumstances. Danielle said that telling others what was going on with Izen and asking for specific help was crucial. As a loved family in their community, people wanted to help but needed to know how! People were grateful to know exactly how to bless their family. In fact, people thanked them for being specific!

The Becker family takes a little more time together these days. Hugs are extra long, and birthday parties are a bit bigger. Even though Izen is now cancer-free, they know to take nothing for granted. After the year they had dealing with cancer, the whole family celebrates harder. Tony and Danielle want to ensure that all their kids know how much they are loved and how celebrated they are.  


When Danielle was asked if there was anything she wanted to highlight about her family’s story with cancer, one thing quickly came to mind: advocate for your children! Izen’s headaches were initially brushed off, and they were told that an MRI would be unnecessary. But her gut told her differently. She pushed and got her son the tests he needed. They don’t know how things would have turned out if they hadn’t advocated for Izen. Thankfully, that’s a scenario they don’t have to think about!