SWARTZ CREEK (WJRT) (9/16/2019) - "My Mom told me they were doing that for me; and I was like nah! No way! Really?" Aaliyah Lee said of her reaction to learning she would graduate high school.
It's a goal her Mom instilled in her at a young age.
"She was always encouraging us to go our hardest to graduate; because even though she went back, they still didn't let her graduate," she explained.
The 16-year-old has been battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer since last November. She wasn't supposed to live more than 2 months.
"Almost November, almost one full year, but it hasn't been easy. No way," Aaliyah said.
Just recently, she and her Mom, Alicia Lee, learned the cancer had spread from Aaliyah's pancreas, liver and lungs to her brain.
"She asked is there any chance for remission and they said no," Alicia Lee explained. "They said what we're doing is treating her to try to keep her here as much as as we can, as long as we can."
So Aaliyah's Mom reached out to the Swartz Creek High School to help her daughter's final wish come true.
Last Tuesday, surrounded by her family, friends, the choir, band and teachers who have watched her grow up in the district, Aaliyah Lee received her diploma.
"It's the one thing she always wanted and knowing she got one of 'em makes me so happy," Alicia Lee said.
For the first time in the last year, Aaliyah was in charge, not the cancer.
"There's always a chance of hope," she said.
"I feel she's much stronger than I am, so much. And I tell her that too and she don't believe it, but she's so strong," her Mom added.
Aaliyah doesn't want her parents to worry about her doctor bills or planning her funeral.
She's taken care of that. And, the community has been helping her family financially.