Todd Blake was only 18-years old when he was first diagnosed with cancer. The college freshman found out he had Hodgkin’s lymphoma while attending the University of Florida, but the life-changing news didn’t deter him from continuing his education.
Between trips to the ER, chemotherapy sessions and frequent hospital visits, Blake not only continued to attend classes online, but managed to do so as a stellar student.
Now 23-years-old, he recently graduated summa cum laude with a degree in business and a 4.0 GPA. This, while battling his cancer for a third time.
After his first diagnoses, Blake believed he was close to beating the cancer according to News4Jax. However he fell ill again just a week before returning to school in 2010 and after several rounds of chemotherapy treatments failed to fight off the disease completely, his body became a host for cancer for the third time.
Through it all, he kept his studies top of mind.
“I just kept pushing forward, thinking about that day when I would graduate and that accomplishment,” said the 23-year-old recent grad during an interview with Today. “It was important to me to graduate and walk across the stage. It was symbolic.”
He admits it’s the disease that helped him gain perspective and pushed him to accomplish so much.
“The future’s kind of robbed from you, as anyone that has cancer, but especially a young adult because you’re trying to start your life or go to school or start your career and figure out what’s next,” he told News4Jax, “so I’ve been forced to live in fast forward a little bit.”
This fast-forward life includes getting married, starting a foundation for adults with cancer called ‘Live for Today Foundation,’ and adding to his family with a new rescue puppy named Louie.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for what he wants to do during the time he has left, including writing a book and recording an album with his wife, Maja.
“You have to be positive” he says, explaining his accomplishments and ambitions. “If you give up on what your dreams are and your aspirations, you really just give up on living. And I just had to have goals and keep going and pushing for that graduation and things that I wanted to do before I was diagnosed, because without that, you just aren’t living.”
Indeed, in his time here he has shown us and everyone around him what living is really all about. For more on his story, check out the Florida Times Union profile on him.