A Tennessee teenager got a very special graduation day this week, months after being diagnosed with cancer for a third time.
Peyton Arnold, 19, finally got to receive his diploma, nearly a year after his fellow classmates graduated in 2015. Arnold has battled leukemia three times starting at age 12. His mother, Penny Arnold, said the cancer first reoccurred during his senior year last year and that he had a bone marrow transplant. He was diagnosed for a third time with the cancer this January.
"It’s not responding to chemotherapy anymore," Penny Arnold told ABC News today. "We’re living on praying and hoping that some miracle will happen because they do happen."
She said that in spite of the radiation therapy, surgery and chemotherapy, Peyton Arnold has continued to do school work and attending class virtually.
"He has been slowly but surely trying to work on it the whole time," his mom said. "It’s taken a while. There’s a lot of times you can’t go to school," during treatment.
This month, the teen's school called and said that he had enough credits to graduate. Officials offered to let him walk during the 2016 graduation ceremony in May or have his own special graduation early, according to Penny Arnold.
"We didn’t know they were going to do anything like that," she said. Due to Peyton's health condition, the family chose for a special graduation to honor him.
"They went and made it as natural as they could," Penny Arnold said. "A lot of his classmates from 2015 they took off from their jobs and the 2016 class walked as well."
She said many people from the local community showed up to support Peyton and watch him accept his diploma. He was not strong enough to walk across the whole field so he drove up to the stage in a golf cart.
"A lot of Dickson County came out for it," Penny Arnold said of the local community. "It was really great. Everything they’ve done for him has been overwhelming."
Penny Arnold said getting a high school diploma was extremely important for her son.
"He said, 'That was one of the best days I had. It was just really great,'" Penny Arnold said. "He said, 'I can’t believe I finally have my diploma. ... I really want to get that done.'"