Cleveland woman with cancer makes it to graduation

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CLEVELAND (AP) -- A Cleveland woman stricken with late-stage cancer has been able to fulfill one of her last wishes: Stay alive long enough to watch her oldest granddaughter graduate from high school.

Barbara Malone was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2008 and has been undergoing various treatments ever since.

Most recently, the 62-year-old stopped taking a new cancer drug after it had no effect for three months and she says she'll probably have to go to hospice care soon.

Despite being tired and in pain, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reported that Malone made it to her 18-year-old granddaughter Kiara's graduation from the Cleveland School of the Arts on Thursday. The ceremony was held at Cleveland State University.

"It's a big, big deal," Kiara said. "She's trying to be strong ... If she wasn't going to be here, I wouldn't feel like graduating."

As Kiara strode across the stage to accept her diploma, Malone clapped vigorously, her face radiating with pride.

"I didn't want to disappoint her," said Malone, who almost wasn't able to make it to the ceremony because of the pain she was in. "I've been praying all day long."

Afterward, Kiara hugged her grandmother as tears flowed down her cheeks, surrounded by other relatives who held roses for her.

Malone said although she was very tired, she also was very happy.

She said her wish to be in the audience for the graduation propelled her through seven months of clinical treatment at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center.

Malone had gotten treatment at MetroHealth Medical Center for her cancer until early 2012, when her oncologist referred her to the clinical treatment. After six months of treatment, doctors found that her cancer had begun to grow again after being dormant and took her off the study.

After the clinical trial, Malone began taking a new drug to slow the progression of her disease. It had no effect and she stopped taking it.

Malone said her granddaughter's graduation allowed her to focus on something else besides her cancer, if only for a little while.

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Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com

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