HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Graduations are typically emotional but one in the Texas Medical Center was more touching than you might imagine. A high school graduation was held for a teen battling bone cancer.
With "Pomp and Circumstance" playing in his hospital room, Erick Reyes may not march across a stage but he is graduating from high school in a special graduation ceremony just for him at Texas Children's Hospital.
"You have been certified as having met all academic requirements for graduation as set forth by the Texas Education Agency," says Madison High School Assistant Principal Miyoshi Arvie.
"Today is more than a special day," says Reyes with a smile. He was a Madison High School senior in January 2016 when he was diagnosed with stage five bone cancer. He had his right leg amputated due to a massive tumor. In fact, the last year has been full of hospital stays as the teen says he is vigorously fighting to survive.
"I feel like I'm in a war zone," adds Reyes. "Each and every day, I have to achieve I have to fight."
The cancer is now beyond his bones. "I actually have tumors in my lungs," says Reyes. "I have a huge tumor in my hip. We just found out recently that on the tip of my right leg that's amputated, there's another tumor there."
Reyes also has a tumor growing on the side of his face and one near his spine. Attending high school graduation in May 2017 may not be an option, but Houston Independent School District officials are determined he will not miss out. They are giving him what he and his parents thought cancer might take away.
"On behalf of the Houston Independent School District and Superintendent Mr. Richard Carranza, I would like to present to you your diploma of graduation from Madison High School," says Houston ISD board president Wanda Adams.
"His dire wish was for him to graduate from high school and to know we were able to fulfill that wish and give him all rights and privileges today is an honor," says Adams while choking back tears.
"It's a blessing from God and I feel like this is something I deserve and I achieved," says Reyes. "I've always had faith in God and something I've always said and declared in my life is that if I live, if God gave me the chance to live I'll live for him."
"He's always been the kid who looks at everything as the glass half full and not empty," explains Madison High School principal Orlando Reyna. "A lot of his peers admire him for his positivity."
Erick now has his diploma and his parents have priceless graduation pictures.
"The biggest joy of the whole day was to see him smile," says Adams with a smile.
The teen says now that he has his diploma, he will continue smiling whether he's healed or if God decides to call him home.
"Dying is winning to me."