ALIEF, Texas - One Taylor High School senior is leaving her mark, inspiring students with her story of strength, at her early graduation, which she said is a dream come true.
Iris Marquez, 17, was diagnosed with cancer. After a year of treatment, she thought she was cancer-free, but was told six months that later it had spread. Now Alief Independent School District is helping her make her wishes come true. She is a bright student who always wanted to graduate. Her graduation took place Friday, in a special ceremony organized by the school and district.
"I am a Disney girl. I have battled pirates, dragons and evil queens. I have dreamed impossible dreams," Marquez said to students in her graduation speech.
Overcoming the impossible is what Marquez does.
"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," Marquez said.
After all, it is a lesson she embodies every day. In April 2015, she was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in her shoulder. After going through chemotherapy for a year, she thought she was cancer-free, but six months later a doctor told her it had spread.
"Recently, I was diagnosed with a tumor on my lung ... when I went back for a checkup, they saw on my rib cage, I also had a tumor," Marquez said.
Though her prognosis is a challenging one, she knows cancer doesn't define her.
"You have to be strong. You have to push yourself you know," Marquez said.
Never letting anything stop her, she told her family her wish.
"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,'" Marciela Marquez, Iris' sister, said.
Alief ISD and Taylor High School helped her make her wish come true, organizing an early graduation ceremony for her in front her administrators, the board, school officials and her senior class.
"It makes me happy. It makes me feel like I matter and it motivates me to keep pushing on," Marquez said.
Now she is leaving her mark.
"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," a classmate, Emily Aguirre, said.
"It was wonderful. I thank Alief ISD for making this happen," Marciela Marquez said.
Iris Marquez is inspiring people wherever she goes.
"There is one thing that I can ask for you, and that is to reach for the sky, to infinite and beyond," she told her classmates.
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