Cancer Patient Graduates With 4.0 GPA, Challenges Others to 'Live for Today'
Maintaining a 4.0 GPA in college is hard enough, but recent University of Florida graduate Todd Blake managed it while battling an aggressive form of cancer.
Blake was only a week into his first semester when he started to develop some unusual symptoms, according to The Florida Times-Union. That’s when he was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Still, he managed to graduate five years later with a degree in business administration.
“It was really hard and there were a lot of times I wanted to give up and quit,” he told “Today.”
“I just kept pushing forward, thinking about the day when I would graduate and that accomplishment. It was important to me to graduate and walk across the stage. It was symbolic.”
Blake’s journey wasn’t easy. He kept up his studies while undergoing 600 hours of chemotherapy, 63 days in the hospital, 18 days of radiation treatment and two bone marrow transplants, according to The Florida Times-Union. His cancer went away but came back three times.
“‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something,” Blake told the paper.
In 2012, the Jacksonville native started The Live For Today Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to granting the wishes of cancer patients ages 18-35. So far it has granted the wishes of three people.
“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,” Blake told News4Jax. “So I’ve been forced to live in fast forward a little bit.”
As if starting a nonprofit, battling cancer and graduating college summa cum laude wasn’t enough – Blake can also add marrying his college sweetheart to his list.
Maja Blake, 20, is a fellow UF graduate who now works in blood cancer research at the Mayo Clinic. She told “Today” that getting engaged at 20 was all about living in the moment.
“Even if it ends early, I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” she told the news outlet.