Graduation is a rite of passage that every high school senior looks forward too. This year, the occasion will be especially poignant for one Johnston County teen and his family.
Two years ago, Charles Humphries was a typical high school sophomore who enjoyed playing sports and hanging out with friends. But when nagging knee pain sent the teen to the doctor, his life was changed forever. Doctors diagnosed Humphries with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that required the amputation of his right leg.
The disease, which had spread to his lungs, forced him into multiple rounds of chemotherapy. Left physically and mentally exhausted, Humphries spent his last two years of high school working independently in his hospital room or at home with tutors.
But this past Friday, the 18-year-old proudly walked with his fellow seniors in the Corinth Holders High School class of 2013.
“Charles has worked really hard to get through school,” said his mother, Susan. “He’s had a really good homebound teacher that has helped him keep up with his work. The school has been really good about getting his assignments to him.”
Humphries said his goal was to finish high school on time with his classmates. He said the hardest part was working solo on assignments without the benefit of a teacher or other students to bounce ideas off of.
“Taking Spanish was really tough,” he said.
As for the future, Humphries will now prepare himself for the SAT. In the fall of 2014, he hopes to attend N.C. State University and major in prosthetic engineering. It’s an interest Humphries developed last summer after the community helped raised money to purchase a state-of-the art prosthetic device. On graduation day, he wore his computer-controlled Genium leg.
“I do plan on going to college, but I want to make sure my scans are all clear,” Humphries said, explaining his decision to wait a year before heading off to college. “I am also trying to get more active and back into shape.”
His mother said it has been a hard road for her son. In addition to chemotherapy and getting used to an artificial leg, Humphries has o endured several surgeries to remove shrunken tumors from both lungs. His most-recent scans show he is cancer-free.
“He’s had a good number of disappointments in the last couple of years, but he’s been pretty amazing,” Susan Humphries said. “I think this has made Charles realize that sometimes things happen that we don’t expect. You have to take what you’ve been given and do your best to overcome.”
The Humphries family planned to have a large presence at graduation. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and friends all planned to be on hand to applaud his accomplishment.
“I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment, especially with all that I’ve been through,” Humphries said. “I feel like I’ve done something big and want to be role model to others so they can be the best that they can be too.”