Riley patients celebrate special graduation

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More than a dozen students celebrated a special graduation Friday at Riley Hospital for Children.

The graduates have had to fight through a whole lot more than the normal trials and tribulations of high school. So if the high school graduation ceremony seems like a special occasion, it is because of what it took to get to this moment for the 16 men and women wearing the caps and gowns.

"I spent more time here than my own school," said Riley patient Breana Allen.

Like Allen, all of these graduates have not only spent hours on homework and classes, they've spent weeks at a time fighting a deadly disease at Riley Hospital for Children.

"To be able to see these young people take this step and record this achievement is really special," said Dr. Robert Fallon.

"Yes. I have a disease, but I still want to have goals. I still want to be everything I can be," Allen added.

Allen just graduated from Pike High School and is studying to become a child life specialist, like the people who helped her fight sickle cell.

"They take your mind off having the pain," explained Allen.

"Riley has been like family, like friends. They took care of me when I was sick. They're truly awesome. They made me feel at home even though I really was not at home," said fellow graduate Jacob Payne.

Payne has been in remission for osteocercoma for two years. Getting through high school was nothing for Payne, compared to fighting cancer.

"You have cancer, you know? You have this disease, like, it changes you. It changes you a lot," said Payne.

Now Payne is graduating surrounded by some of the same people who saved his life. The moment means everything to him.

"I am very really very honored to do this," said Payne.

For these students, the biggest lessons they've learned haven't come from books. They've learned to take it one day at a time and live in the moment.

It's been a lesson well beyond their young years.