Julie Smith/ANN Staff
A high school graduation generally marks the completion of secondary education for a young adult in the United States, and is often celebrated with pomp and fanfare. But when the graduate is undergoing a bone-marrow transplant to combat acute myelogenous leukemia, the stage shifts from an auditorium to a hospital room.
Juanita Padilla is a patient undergoing treatment at Loma Linda University Mecial Center’s (LLUMC) Children’s Hospital. The 18-year-old Moreno Valley, California, high school senior enjoyed a complete in-hospital graduation ceremony, thanks to her teachers and counselors. On Wednesday, June 16, the school brought a graduation ceremony to her room on unit 4800 at LLUMC.
Diagnosed in September 2001, Juanita has attended all of her regular classes except for two hospital stays—one at the beginning of her 11th grade year and one at the end of this year due to a bone marrow transplant she received on April 7. Her brother, Salvador, a 14-year-old freshman at Vista Del Lago High School, matched her marrow and was the donor.
Juanita was rehospitalized on May 6 for complications, but donned her cap and gown for the ceremony. Eight days later, she marked her 18th birthday. She looks forward to attending college, where she wants to study to become an elementary school teacher or a nurse.