LAWTON, Iowa (KTIV) - This weekend hundreds of Siouxland students say goodbye to high school and start a new chapter of their lives.
For one student at Lawton-Bronson High School, just reaching this milestone was a miracle.
"The story of William is never give up and always know there is hope." said Melissa Tjeerdsma.
William Tjeerdsma's mother first noticed something different about her son before he even reached the age of one.
"I was changing a diaper and I saw just a little wiggle in his eye," said Melissa.
That small movement turned into a medical emergency.
"We had a scan that showed a large inoperable brain tumor," said Melissa.
The Mayo Clinic treated William with intense chemotherapy.
"A follow-up scan showed that the tumor was still there and continued to grow," said Melissa.
With William too young for radiation at the age of 19 months doctors gave a grim prognosis.
"You don't think it can go down anymore when your told your child is told he's going to die. His dad felt we had to do something we couldn't leave him screaming in pain," said Melissa.
William's father, a cardiologist, didn't accept the terminal diagnosis. He sought out a neurosurgeon from California who removed 50% of the tumor.
"It was a miracle when he was two and we could take him home from California and decorate his room and think about him growing up, that was a miracle sending him to preschool was a miracle," said Melissa Tjeerdsma.
William underwent his last major surgery in 2004 to remove more of the cancer. His final one came in 2012.
However, remnants of his disease remain.
"They could never take out the whole thing because it would remove his vision and harm him very seriously," said Melissa.
"I have gone through something and gotten through it thanks to God's help and God is what got me through it," said William Tjeerdsma.
William shares his strong faith by volunteering countless hours to a local hospital, his church, and more.
"It gives me the satisfaction knowing that I'm helping other people and making a difference in the community," said William Tjeerdsma.
And, William wants to make a difference after high school by going to college to become a social worker for cancer victims.
"To help children going through the same route that I had to go through medically and to give them hope as well", said William.
Unfortunately, the man who gave his son hope for the future won't see William become a man.
Dr. Ken Tjeerdsma passed away in 2009 of a sudden heart attack.
"I'm following in his footsteps just another form of medicine," said William.
William says the support of his family, especially his mom helped him overcome an unbelievable obstacle.
"I want to thank her for all that she has done and all of the support she has given me", said William.
William graduated with honors and will start at Western Iowa Tech later this month and eventually plans to transfer to Briar Cliff University.
Other students at Lawton-Bronson voted William the most caring and one of the top students to most likely to change the world.
William still needs to get periodic scans, but his prognosis looks good.
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