Karleen Zetina graduates high school fighting brain cancer

Posted at: 03/10/2013 11:33 PM
By: Gadi Schwartz, 4 On Your Side; Shaun Griswold, KOB.com

For Karleen Zetina the news was extremely bad.

Two years ago she was diagnosed with brain cancer.

The grim reality didn’t leave much hope for her to lead a normal life, let alone go to school and do her homework.

Let alone graduate high school.

Zetina, 17, didn’t want to let cancer prevent her from receiving her diploma from West Mesa High School in Albuquerque.

On Saturday, she was the first 2013 graduate from the New Mexico school, nearly a month after the tumor growing in her brain forced her into hospice care.

"Someone is going to see me and they are going to know they are going to say look she can do it, I can put whatever I put my mind to,” Zetina said “If she can go through cancer and go through graduation they can go do something with their life also. "

It’s not always easy.

Zetina admits her fears and the uncertainty about her future.

“I'm very scared, it's very very scary. To think especially at 17. Being gone. I can't,” she said.

However, Zetina has courage to bear her soul and is a reminder to everyone that life is precious.

“We were doing Pepto Bismol and my mom put it in a tube and my mom squeezed the tube and it went,” she joked while changing her bandages.

In many ways she is a normal girl.

When the Make-A-Wish Foundation learned she loved fashion, she was sent to New York City to be a model for a day.

Zetina continued to joke when she recently went shopping for a wig.

“I'm going to wear the green one guys,” she said.

When she saw other kids her age take their classroom time for granted she wanted to make a point that even a girl facing the most extreme difficulties can finish school.

“It just frustrates me because it's like you guys can go to school and I can't,” she said.

She set her mind to graduate and earn her diploma. Even when her brain tumor made studying difficult she pushed through. 

“I would get frustrated with myself, Zetina said.

Her diagnosis was not good after the last of her four surgeries.

That led to Zetina going into hospice care this month.

Zetina’s high school pulled out all the stops to help her complete her education goals.

A graduation for one person.

Karleen Zetina.

The whirlwind night included tearful speeches and a packed auditorium with friends, family and supporters.

Most importantly, a diploma.

Karleen Zetina wants people to understand a simple message: I did it and so can you, so please make something of your life.