Iris Marquez just gave the speech of her life, a graduation speech that’s just a few months early.
As Fox News reports, the 17-year-old from Texas was first diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, in 2015. Iris went through chemotherapy and was looking forward to her senior year of high school when she got bad news. The cancer was back. What’s more, it had spread from her shoulder to her lungs and ribs.
That’s when Iris made a difficult decision. She decided she wanted to finish high school and enjoy the milestones of her senior year rather than go back into treatment. Her sister, Marciela, told Click2Houston:
“She said, ‘You know what? I want to graduate. I’m not going to miss school. I’m not going to go through with treatment.'”
With a terminal diagnosis, Iris risked the possibility of not making it to her graduation. So Taylor High School and the Alief Independent School District organized a special graduation ceremony just for her.
According to WCMH, a school official introduced Iris to the stage by telling the audience, “Though her prognosis is not good, she is praying for a miracle. Iris is a strong young lady, and she continues to attend school every day. Her wish is to graduate from high school and have prom. She’s sharing her wish with you today.”
Iris then had the chance to give her graduation speech. She called herself a “Disney girl,” and told the crowd, “I have dreamed impossible dreams.” She also had a message for them from her own experience:
“Seniors, there will be times when there are things that are out of your control. Don’t let you harden your heart. Don’t let it define who you are.”
Iris wants to make sure that she isn’t defined by her diagnosis. “You have to be strong. You have to push yourself you know,” she told Click2Houston.
Big day for one Alief Independent School District student. 17-yr-old Iris Marquez had a wish to graduate high school….
And she inspired others by urging her classmates to, “reach for the sky, to infinity and beyond.” But it wasn’t just her words that did it. As one classmate said:
“I’m proud of her. She’s been pushing herself so hard. She always comes to school happy. She never lets herself down and it just touched my heart.”
Iris and her family were grateful to the school for arranging the special ceremony. “It makes me happy,” she said. “It makes me feel like I matter and it motivates me to keep pushing on.”
Though she hasn’t given up hope, Iris’ words to her fellow students were emotional. “Class of 2019, I have been chosen,” she said. “Farewell my friends, I’ve gone to a better place.”