DANIELLE THERRIEN

I have dealt with medical problems most of my life, but was determined to be successful in school. I was an honor student in middle school, and determined to be the first member of my family to graduate high school in three generations.

In the beginning of 10th grade, I had been feeling pretty sick for a while. I missed a lot of school being in and out of emergency rooms and doctors’ offices. Then towards Christmas, I was diagnosed with a rare cancer. After the diagnosis, I missed a lot more school for chemotherapy, radiation and trips to visit specialists in Orlando. Determined to not let this cancer stop my education, I made the decision to stay a full time student at school and not leave for the recommended hospital homebound program. I kept up with my studies as much as possible using my textbooks and completing assignments while I was in the hospital receiving treatments and undergoing medical testing.

As soon as I was released from the hospital treatments, I would go to school and take all of my missed tests and quizzes at once. This went on for 10 months into the first semester of my junior year. From March to May, I felt hopeful that my cancer struggles were over and my life would get back to normal. It felt wonderful to be a normal high school student again working hard to get back on track. In May, I was told that as a result of my cancer treatments, I now had kidney disease and spent the summer after junior year receiving dialysis. I was determined to begin my senior year while continuing dialysis, but I had to stop after the first semester to undergo my first kidney transplant surgery. I was so close to finishing, yet, I had to take time off at this point to focus on my health.

After a year and a half, I felt ready to return to school and enrolled at Acceleration Academy in August 2017. During my 10 months at AA, I completed my last 7 courses and passed my Reading Assessment. I'm not going to lie; it was not easy. During this time I found out that my kidney transplant did not work, and I needed to receive dialysis 3 times per week, The focus at this time was to help my body survive and stabilize to be eligible for another kidney transplant. I was so close to graduating; I went to school every chance I had that I was not at a doctors office or dialysis. I decided at this point to “GO HARD OR DON’T GO AT ALL.”

On two occasions this year, I remember going to school and waking up in the Emergency Room. There have been many setbacks and my doctors are still working on a plan. Thank you to my peers and the Acceleration Academy staff that looked out for me and got medical help when needed, and for helping me to finish my credits. I would not give up my high school graduation without every ounce of fight I have in me. Now that I have achieved this, my goals continue to grow and I am applying for college to begin this fall. I would love to become a school counselor someday, to help other students that face difficulties and challenges persevere to the finish line and achieve academic success.

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