Many high school seniors stress about graduation. Yeatise Gaines just wanted to live long enough to graduate.

Graduation season is a time of transition and great emotion for families across the country as students move into a new part of life full of new dreams and opportunities. For Kalamazoo senior Yeatise Gaines, her dream was simply to make it to graduation, and as her health faded last week, that dream nearly slipped away.

Gaines was diagnosed with a rare form of skeletal and muscular cancer when she was just 18 months old. The cancer followed her through life, reappearing when she was 2, 8, and 12, and requiring at least 10 surgeries and radiation therapy, according to reporting from Despite her debilitating illness, Gaines was a bright, happy young woman, who believed strongly in the importance of education, according to her family. Throughout her life, she remained dedicated to her studies, literature in particular, and persevered on her path toward graduation even as she became too ill to attend school.

Thanks to her dedication, Gaines succeeded in graduating this year. During a special ceremony in her hospital room, Gaines received a cap, gown, and certificate of completion from her high school Vice Principal and several other faculty members as her extended family looked on. According to Vice Principal Valerie Boggan, the family was celebrating Gaines' achievement, happy to see her achieve her dream like so many seniors around the country.

Gaines died the next day. She was 17.

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