To earn his diploma from Sunnyside High School, Edgar Casas, 19, fought for his life.

As a high school freshman, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

At the time, he was living in Phoenix with his grandmother and had never been seriously sick before. His schooling ceased when treatments began at Cardon Children’s Center in Mesa.

There, he met Monica Molina and her daughter Marissa Molina, who was at the hospital to receive treatment for bone cancer.

“He took care of himself a lot during his treatment and was often by himself,” Monica says. “But he was always smiling and always stayed positive. He didn’t feel sorry for himself or anything like that and didn’t have the support that most of the kids had there.”

Monica remembers Casas taking taxis to and from treatment and making trips to the grocery store to make his own meals. Monica, her daughter and many of the nurses rallied around the teen.

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