BROCK, Texas (CBS11) – Every diploma handed out this spring, marks a life accomplishment for graduating seniors. But for one senior in Brock, Texas, that accomplishment has been life itself.
Ethan Paul Tepera, is part of the class of 2017 for the Brock Eagles.
In some ways, he’s just like every other graduate this spring, excited to have finally made it.
Graduation, however, isn’t something he ever really thought was possible.
CBS11 first told his story in 2012. At 13-years-old, he was bald from leukemia treatments. His Arlington community had organized a hurried search for a bone marrow donor.
“We found a young lady in Houston, and she was my first bone marrow donor,” Ethan said Tuesday, at his home in Brock where his parents moved after that first recovery.
They were able to celebrate the one-year anniversary there, before the cancer returned.
“I was mad at God, mad at the world, mad at what my circumstance had come out to be,” he said.
With time, his anger, and his body, healed again.
“To not go through the treatment again, would be just to throw my life away,” he said.
Ethan’s illness was originally discovered after a football game. His headaches and pain turned out to be from the leukemia. The treatment required to recover not once, but twice, left his bones in brittle condition. Football and tackling were out, and fishing tackle was in.
“I think it was just the serenity, the peace that you kinda get when you’re out here,” he said, as he cast into a small pond.
At Brock High School, Ethan helped start a school fishing team. It’s developed enough to lead him to pursue studying fisheries science at Texas A&M in the fall.
And while graduation is a big accomplishment, the bigger one may be his impact on 21 people he’s never met. That’s how many others, so far, have found their own bone marrow matches, from the original drives to find a donor for Ethan.
“Maybe my purpose was to bring more donors in, at least a few,” he said. “Because I know my life wasn’t the only one saved.”