Arizona teen cancer survivor not allowed to walk at graduation ceremony

An Arizona high school was facing criticism after not allowing a teen cancer survivor to participate in their graduation ceremony.

A graduation ceremony is something so many students will never forget, so as many can imagine, an Arizona teen received an incredible amount of sympathy and support online, with his story being shared thousands of times on social media.

Stephen Dwyer, 18, missed his entire junior year while getting a bone marrow transplant for high-risk leukemia.

The transplant was life-saving, but Dwyer said he had to work extremely hard to get back on track with his schooling.

Dwyer took extra classes, rejoined the swim team and was even elected student body president, but when it was time to graduate, he came just two credits short.

He's set to finish high school in December, but because he has yet to complete all of his credits, Dwyer wasn't allowed to join his classmates in Thursday's graduation ceremony.

While the district praised him for being courageous, they said it is school policy that no one gets to take part in the ceremony before earning a diploma.

The district did offer Dwyer a chance to sit on the stage and give a speech as long as he didn't wear a cap and gown. Dwyer turned the offer down, saying it would make him feel more isolated from the other seniors. Dwyer was able to lead his classmates in a procession on the field, but he was then required to sit in the stands wearing regular clothes.

In a Facebook post now going viral, the cancer survivor said in part:

"Students who are put in situations like mine are stranded on an island away from all the other normal teenagers. We are drawn away from all the great things that make high school enjoyable. We are in isolation physically and emotionally. One week we're in the hospital, the next we are just too tired or self-conscious to go to the dance, the game, or the party. We miss out on so much and have no choice but to sit at home and observe on social media. The fact that I am not allowed to walk with my class is again putting me on that island. I lost a lot of high school memories and now I'm losing the final one."

Dwyer said he never expected to walk across the stage or receive a diploma, he just wanted to be a part of the ceremony as one of his peers would be.

But despite how it turned out, he said he doesn't regret going. Dwyer hopes his story will help someone else who may be going through the same thing he is.