Teen shares how she balances classwork with chemo

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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) -- While most college students stress about studying, Kenzie Kelley doesn't.

"The thing that I was most upset about going through chemo was not necessarily losing my hair, but not being able to go to school," said Kelley.

In October 2016, the 19-year-old Bryan, Texas native was diagnosed with Stage 4 Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

"I just saw all these things, and never realized that it was leukemia," said Kelley.

The day she was rushed to the ER after hemorrhaging at school was the day the doctors started her on chemotherapy.

"With all these IV's going into me and all these wires hooked up to me and I'm just like, 'Is this a norm?'" questioned Kelley.

Kelley's grandmother, Estrella Martinez, has been with her since day one and continues to pray throughout her granddaughter's remission.

"All the time, I never left her, not one minute, and I know the cancer is still there, but we have to live one day at a time and hope and pray," said Martinez.

Kenzie's grandmother continues to be her constant companion, and together, they never let cancer get them down.

"I am so proud to be your Nana because you are a strong, strong young lady and you continue to amaze me," said Martinez.

"On my second day, I came up with a motto: 'I have leukemia. Leukemia does not have me,'" said Kelley.

Now in remission, Kenzie is starting her college career at Blinn College and wants to be a special education teacher.

Kelley said she is lucky to be alive after seeing her friends she met at McLane's Children's Hospital succumb to cancer. She knew that going to college would be a dream for Johnathon, a friend of hers who passed away.

"I know he would want me to do this and I continue to talk to his family and see how they are doing, but I am doing this for not only me, but for Johnathon," said Kelley.

Although Kelley's last two years of high school were not what she expected, she is ready to live the life she has always dreamed of.

"You know, I just said, 'Okay, let's get on with our lives and try to get that old life back even though that junior year is not coming back,'" said Kelley.

Kenzie Kelley is now a member of the teen advisory board at McLane Children's Hospital in Temple, where she visits other patients and collaborates with hospital staff once a month.

Read the original version of this article at kbtx.com.