Swan Valley community rallies around senior battling cancer - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Swan Valley community rallies around senior battling cancer

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SAGINAW COUNTY (WJRT) - (05/23/14) - Most high school seniors in Mid-Michigan have either graduated or are getting ready for those ceremonies - but one Saginaw County high school senior might miss all the pomp and circumstance while he battles cancer.

Its a fight the entire Swan Valley School district is taking on with him.
"He is natural leader on the football field and off," says Swan Valley senior Alex Grace.

He is talking about 18 year old Alex Dils, number 32, pulling in the two point conversion reception for the Swan Valley football team. This is Dils talking about teammate Alex Grace in September.

"You know he'll have your back," Dils said.

Now, Grace, and the all of the other students in Swan Valley, from elementary to high school, have Alex Dils' back. Earlier this month, a chest x-ray showed, what was thought to be a bad cold, was really something much worse. His doctor called.

"It seems you have an enlarged heart, please get to the ER," remembered Matthew Dills.

His brother Matthew says doctors determined it wasn't an enlarged heart, but a huge tumor that was blocking his airways. Since then, Dils has undergone intensive chemotherapy, spent time in a coma and on a ventilator. Thanks to all that, his condition has improved. The tumor has shrunk by about 50 percent. His family was getting ready for a graduation ceremony, but that all changed.

The Swan Valley community sprung into action.

"They put a T-shirt together in a matter of a couple of hours, somebody mentioned it and there was a design out," says Swan Valley junior Brock Notter.

Wristbands have been made and sold, all the money going to the Dils family. He's been getting visits from close friends.

"Some people that aren't even close, from Freeland and Hemlock, they go visit him," Grace said.

Even Michigan football coach Brady Hoke stopped by Thursday.
"His colors changed, because he said he was a Michigan State fan," Notter said.

Meanwhile, his Swan Valley classmates prepare to graduate.

"I think it definitely took a toll on everyone as a whole, but at the same time it brought us together," says senior Angie Reich.

"Alex would not want us to change anything," says senior Trent Fowler.

Neither would Alex's mom Christine, who is a counselor at the high school.

"If I need something, I need to talk to someone, she is my go to person, she has been her for the last four years for us, we are going to be here for her," Fowler says.

If Alex Dils can't attend the June 2 graduation, the school will take it to him.

"If he is not going to be there, we are looking at other options, like virtually bringing him in, or actually bringing him here, but that's up to his medical team on whether he can travel or not," says Swan Valley High School principal Craig Blower.

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