It’s just a short walk across the commencement stage as students receive their high school diploma. But for many seniors, the road to get there was long. For Joshua Suarez, it felt even longer.
“To say that I’ve beaten cancer is to say, ‘What can I not beat?’” he told Channel 4, the local Fox affiliate. “Going across that stage is more proof I’ve made it.”
Suarez was diagnosed with cancer, which spread to his lungs, when he was 15 years old, according to the station. Sitting in first period, the sophomore couldn’t breathe and felt his lungs contract when he started coughing. He was rushed into surgery and underwent 11 rounds of chemotherapy.
“I was like, ‘That’s a death sentence,’” he told Channel 4. “I really thought, ‘This is it. This is the end for me.’”
Channel 4 reported that during his treatment, Suarez kept up with his schoolwork and taught himself AP biology. Doctors finally gave him the news that he was cancer free about a year and half after his diagnosis.
After graduation, Suarez plans to attend Albion College in Michigan, where he wants to double major in art and pre-med, according to the station. The goal is to help other cancer patients by becoming an oncologist.
“I got my second chance,” he told Channel 4. “I’m hoping to give that to others.”
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