GREENVILLE, Mich — Bree Town is celebrating eight years in remission and a special milestone in 2022.
Thursday, Town walked across the stage and received her diploma from Greenville High School.
"I'm grateful, like, proud that I made it and that like, I am able to graduate like at all. Because, I used to just say like, I'm probably not gonna be able to graduate and like, but I am now," Bree Town told FOX 17 News. "I missed the a lot of school from like my cancer, obviously. And, it just like affected me a lot."
Town's battle with cancer- and compassion for others- has inspired her community for years.
FOX 17 first featured the then eight-year-old girl for her efforts to "pay it forward" in June 2012. She collected items along with her big sister Madison to donate to Helen DeVos Children's Hopsital. The pair also donated their hair to the non-profit "Children with Hair loss". Bree went through with the haircut in the hospital just one week after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in May 2012.
After undergoing treatment, Bree celebrated being in remission by crafting ornaments to sell to buy iPads for kids in the hospital. She was able to buy 13 and personally deliver a few to sick patients.
When she learned she had relapsed, FOX 17 followed along as Bree searched for a donor and eventually underwent a life-saving bone marrow transplant at age 10.
The life saving stem cells came from an anonymous donor in Germany.
"I'm just so thankful, especially for her bone marrow donor," said Jennifer Town, Bree's mom. "Without him, she would not be graduating."
Bree spent months in the hospital, frequently missing school and falling behind in classes.
"Lots of tutors, lots of extra schoolwork, she had to get a lot of help to get caught back up," said Jennifer. "It's nice to see like the reward to all that hard work. I've never seen anybody work harder than her."
After a busy senior year of cheerleading, hanging with friends and popular events like prom, Bree is thrilled to mark this major milestone.
"You just have to really keep going every day at a time...hard work, it always does pay off in the end," she said. "Throughout all of high school, I always just tried even though I got behind. I found a way eventually to get back on track again. I kept going."
Despite her health challenges, Bree's desire to help others never wavered.
She turned her "re-birthday"- the date marking her transplant- into a chance to give back to the hospital.
Year after year, she has organized donation drives, dropping off gifts to bring smiles to the young patients there.
For her 18th birthday, Bree celebrated with another special delivery of donations.
She is planning to attend Montcalm County College this fall and has dreams of going into the medical field.
"I learned a lot of like, what [doctors and nurses are] doing and like, I watched them every day, like, take care of me. And... I also like helping people," Bree explained. "I think that's another reason why that's like, it's important to me."
Her advice to her fellow grads is to keep going, despite the obstacles that may come their way.
"I feel like they should know that like, as they go through something really big and even if it's like traumatic or like something I went through, or like just really rough times that it will pass eventually," she said. "The thing is you have to like just take it one day at a time and you can't like try to worry about like what's going to happen. You just have to pray and hope things will get better. And they eventually do."
You can follow Bree's journey on Facebookhere.