A senior at Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas who beat stage four cancer is celebrating another milestone: high school graduation.
Joshua Suarez was diagnosed with stage four testicular cancer when he was just 15 years old, but he still managed to graduate on time with his classmates.
Suarez says cancer runs in his family, but he never thought he’d get a cancer diagnosis as a teenager.
He says it’s been a long road to graduation, but he’s hoping others going through something similar might be encouraged by his story.
“I got my second chance,” he said. “And I’m hoping to give that to others.”
Suarez’s path to high school graduation has seemed a lot longer ever since the first week of sophomore year in 2016.
“I couldn’t breathe out of nowhere in first period,” he recalled. “I coughed. And as I coughed, my lungs sort of contracted.”
After several tests, Suarez finally got the devastating diagnosis of stage four testicular cancer, which spread to his lungs.
“I was like that’s a death sentence,” he said. “I really thought this is it. This is the end for me.”
Suarez’s mother is a cancer survivor, and his late aunt had sarcoma that also spread to her lungs.
The teen was rushed to surgery and immediately pulled out of school and put on chemotherapy, going through roughly 11 rounds of chemo a week. At one point, he weighed just 140 pounds. But he credits support from his family and a message from his brother giving him strength.
“God gives his hardest obstacles to his strongest soldiers. And as soon as I got that text, I just knew God was with me,” he said. “Whatever God has planned for me I accept. If it’s to fight, I’m fighting until the end. But if it’s not, I’m ready to go.”
All the while, Suarez was keeping up with school work and even teaching himself AP bio. He finally got the news he was cancer-free after about a year and a half of surgeries and chemo.
Suarez says after all he’s been through, he’s ready to get his diploma May 25.
“To say that I’ve beaten cancer is to say what can I not beat?” he said. “Going across that stage is more proof I’ve made it.”
Suarez says he plans to double major in art and pre-med at Albion College next year. His goal is to become an oncologist so he can help other cancer patients.