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Sask. teen continues dancing through difficult diagnosis
Published Monday, May 7, 2018 6:51PM CST
Dancing is an escape from reality for 14 year-old Dannicka Kequahtooway, if only for a second.
“It makes me feel better. If I’m down or sad or depressed, I let all my emotions out in my dance moves so it makes me feel better,” said Kequahtooway, who has been dancing for nine years.
From ballet, to tap, to jazz, lyrical and jingle dress, Kequahtooway can do it all.
“If I’m happy in my tap song, I just think about all the good memories and I just let it all out in my moves,” added Kequahtooway.
Now all of her hard work has paid off, recently receiving two dance scholarships, hand-picked by two judges at two separate dance competitions.
“When she got her first scholarship, she was on cloud 9 for a week,” said Bruce Kequahtooway, Dannicka’s father.
“I could just not stop being excited, it was really awesome,” said Dannicka.
One scholarship will take her to New York with an opportunity to dance on Broadway. The other scholarship will also take her to Florida where she’ll perform on a stage at Disneyworld. Her dance instructor, Shayna Glass, director and owner of Diva Dance in Grenfell just made Kequahtooway a teacher and says she couldn’t be more proud of her.
“She’s very hard working, very talented and she’s just a pleasure to teach. Dannicka will also be about the fifth or sixth student we’ve had receive this scholarship. It’s very exciting,” said Glass.
Kequahtooway has overcome many obstacles on the stage, but none of them compare to the family’s battle off the stage. She was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at the age of six, causing her to experience seizures and some memory loss.
“Her tumor lies between the frontal and the temporal lobes of the brain, it’s inside the brain so it can’t be operated on,” said Crystal Lange, Dannicka’s mother.
“It’s challenging for me and I’ll forget some moves. I try and put that aside and try not let that bring me down,” said Dannicka.
Dannicka did undergo chemo therapy but the treatment became too much to handle.
“And she told us, ‘Mommy, if it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go. If the Creator wants me at home, I will go so don’t cry over me.’ It’s really hard when she’s six years old, telling her parents this,” said Lange, holding back tears.
“She knows that she’s not going to here forever. For a young girl like that to speak about that, speak about death and be prepared to go. It’s very, very spiritual,” said Bruce.
The family continues to monitor the tumor with MRIss and appointments with a neurologist in Saskatoon, while living each day to the fullest.
In order for Dannicka to go to Florida and New York, the family needs to raise $30,000. Last Friday’s fundraiser in Broadview helped, as did bottle drives and upcoming fundraisers with Cowessess, Kahkewistahaw and Ochapowace First Nation. Dannicka’s father, Bruce also plans to raise pledges by riding his wheel chair from his house to the town of Broadview, 11 kilometres in total.
“If I have to sell my herd of horses, I will. I’m behind her 150 per cent and I will do whatever it takes,” said Bruce.
Dannicka has taught the family that life is short and every moment is important. With her trip to New York less than a month away, the family will continue to raise the money needed so that their daughter can follow her dreams.