A couple of Merced teenagers marked the end of an era this week when they finished the eighth grade like hundreds of other youngsters, but these two teens did so while dealing with cancer.
Nearly 1,200 Merced City School District students completed the eighth grade during Wednesday ceremonies, including cancer survivors Mina Lopez and Brody Ferguson.
Mina, 13, who went to Hoover Middle School, started feeling ill in February 2015 and sought medical care, according to school officials, but her condition went undiagnosed until she visited Valley Children’s Hospital last July. By that time, she was extremely sick with what turned out to be leukemia, officials said.
Mina wasn’t able to attend school while she underwent treatment for the disease that affects the blood and bone marrow. Even so, she managed to complete her work through the district’s home health program, according to officials.
We are all so very proud of you for your courage and determination this year.
Hoover Middle School Principal Julie Rivard on student Mina
Principal Julie Rivard said she was thrilled to receive a call from Mina’s mom a few weeks ago letting her know that Mina is now in remission, according to a news release, and was given permission from her doctor to attend Wednesday’s graduation.
Rivard recognized the teen during the commencement ceremony. “We are all so very proud of you for your courage and determination this year,” Rivard said during the ceremony.
Mina said she is grateful to be feeling better and encouraged her fellow students to appreciate their health and make the most of every day, according to a news release.
Cruikshank Middle School graduate Brody, 15, was diagnosed three years ago with epithelial sarcoma, a cancer that attacks soft tissue. He endured multiple surgeries and radiation, according to school officials, but doctors later discovered that the cancer had returned.
Cruikshank Middle School graduate Brody Ferguson, 15, was diagnosed three years ago with epithelial sarcoma, a cancer that attacks soft tissue.
His foot was fractured during a physical therapy session, school officials said, and on March 9 his leg was amputated below the knee.
Principal Jill Settera awarded the teen the Heart of the Champion Award during Wednesday’s ceremony, according to school officials. The new award, given out for the first time at Cruickshank, also earned the young man a standing ovation.
Brody has inspired his family, classmates, teachers and principal with his positive attitude and determination to achieve all of his goals despite the pain and physical challenges he has experienced, according to school officials.
The youngster said life is a gift, and he feels lucky and excited for the future, according to a news release.