- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 9, 2014

LAMOMI, Iowa (AP) - A teenager from southern Iowa died of brain cancer less than a day after a special ceremony was held to present her with her high school diploma several months early.

Bethany Gruich, 18, died Monday morning at her Lamoni home, surrounded by family, the Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/12JATqb ) reported. She had been fighting brain cancer for more than two years.

Lamoni High School organized a full graduation ceremony for Gruich after it became apparent that she wouldn’t live to see the spring commencement. About 300 people attended the event on Sunday and watched Gruich’s older sister, Kayla, as she accepted the diploma on her behalf. Gruich stayed home because she wasn’t feeling well.

Classmate Karli Smith was chosen to speak at the ceremony about the friend she’s known since kindergarten.

“I had to ask myself, what do I know about Bethany that I want you guys to know?” Smith asked the crowd. “And the first thing I thought of is her attitude towards life.”

Smith went on to say that Gruich is an inspiring person who isn’t afraid to be herself.

“Her art is weird. She does things that I would never even think of doing. I remember one piece that she drew that was of presents opening humans. Like, what? Who does that?”

Gruich, who had described herself as a “happy person” despite her illness, managed to look at her situation with a little bit of humor. She even gave her tumor a name, Philip.

Gruich had laser surgery in May to remove regrown tumors, and she had been doing remarkably well as of October. Her family hoped she could graduate in the spring and see her sister get married next summer. But in early November, doctors found new tumors during a routine MRI.

Michael Gruich, Bethany’s father, said her battle with cancer has been a “big journey.”

“There’s been things I wished hadn’t happen, but there’s been good things,” he said.


Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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