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Student Succeeding Despite Cancer
Having battled cancer since the seventh grade, Riverbank High senior Shawn Dye has not let that stop his schooling and is on track to graduate with his classmates later this year.

In a singular honor for himself and his school, he has been chosen out of 27 students nominated from throughout Stanislaus County to advance to the regional level of the Every Student Succeeding program sponsored by the Association of California School Administrators.

Sitting with Principal Christine Facella in her office recently, Dye talked about what it is like to be diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 12, go through repeated surgeries and medical treatments and fight to get an education despite an illness that is now in remission.

"It started with bad headaches, losing my balance and fainting," he said. "Then after hospitalization and chemo treatment and radiation, I had a lot of vomiting. Eventually the doctors put my leg in a cast because the surgery affected my tendons. I couldn't straighten my foot. They wanted me to use a wheelchair and then a walker because of my balance problems. But approaching my senior year, I didn't want something that got in the way."

Home schooled through most of his seventh and half his eighth and ninth grades, Dye got back onto campus part time during his 10th grade year and came back fulltime to RHS for his junior and senior years.

Dye walks with a slight limp.

"I still can't run. Maybe I could if I tried hard. But I'm glad the cancer didn't affect my brain," he said. "I'm into art design and graphics. But I also need the left side of my brain, I think it is, for math and science."

Facella noted that Dye has caught up on all his missed classes - he completed Spanish classes that usually take three years in just two years - and is set to graduate this spring.

Shawn's parents are Eric and Cynthia Dye. The other member of the household is his younger brother Leo. He has lived in the Riverbank area since he was four and was perfectly healthy until he turned 12.

Other RHS students who have represented the school at the Every Student Succeeding event in previous years include Rita Ortiz, Patsy Albor and Priscilla Mancilla.