Fort Worth, TX,
12:26 PM

Father Joins Son in Getting Haircut During Chemotherapy Treatment

For Father's Day, we're sharing the heartwarming story of 3-year-old Rylee McLemore and how his father Steven supported him during his leukemia journey.

By Heather Duge

Three-year-old Rylee McLemore and his dad Steven do everything together. Fishing, driving in the Jeep and exploring outdoors are just a few of their favorite pastimes. Rylee McLemore (10)

“Rylee is a daddy’s boy,” Steven said. “He is my best friend and I’m his anchor.”

Everything changed in October 2021 when Rylee began experiencing fever, fatigue, bruising and a lack of appetite. The family was living in California where doctors assured them it was a viral infection. But two days before his second birthday, Rylee’s mom Amber took him to the Emergency Department because he had stopped walking. Bloodwork revealed acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Rylee’s bubbly personality and constant laughter instantly disappeared as he was in pain.

“It was like all the life in him was gone,” Steven said. “He just wasn’t the same child and hurt all the time.”

Rylee’s parents were determined to find the best hospital to treat him. The oncologist who diagnosed him in California referred him to Cook Children’s and on Rylee’s second birthday, the family flew to Fort Worth. Rylee McLemore (3)

A couple of weeks after diagnosis, Rylee’s hair started falling out and he would need his first haircut. Steven was working out of state at the time, but this was a milestone he was not going to miss.

“I got there as soon as I could,” Steven said. “Rylee had pretty red hair and I didn’t want him to be scared with everything going on. I decided to get a haircut with him.” Rylee McLemore (4)

The father-son duo got haircuts together in Rylee’s inpatient room on the Oncology floor – a moment Steven will always remember. The haircuts are just one example of the many ways they have felt supported at the hospital every step of the way.

“We love it at Cook Children’s,” Amber said. “The doctors and nurses are absolutely amazing. I wouldn’t choose any other place.”

Within four weeks of treatment, Rylee went into remission. He is now back to his spunky self and set to finish the 2 ½ year treatment protocol in February. Amber says she had always worried about her husband and son having a close relationship because Steven worked on the road for the first 10 months of Rylee’s life and only saw him once a month.

“It’s amazing to see how close they are,” Amber said. “Rylee always wants to be with his daddy. They really are best friends.”

Cook Children's Hematology-Oncology Cook Children's Medical Center

If we had one wish, it would be to ERASE any kind of illness so no child or family would have to experience pain or disease. That is why at Cook Children's Hematology and Oncology Center, we are working every day to bring more innovative research, ground-breaking medical treatments and trail-blazing clinical trials to children with cancer and blood disorders – so that one day – our wish to erase kid cancer and blood disorders will come true.

Learn more at Cook Children's Hematology-Oncology (