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Conquering Cancer

Senior Danae Ontiveros returns to PRHS cancer-free
Senior Danae Ontiveros received life-altering news; she had Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. When they heard the news on Nov. 26, 2013, Ontiveros could see in her parents’ faces that they were afraid of what was to come and worried they could lose her. However, her outlook was one of acceptance and determination.
“I took the news really well. My attitude was like ‘let’s hurry up and get this done because I have things do,” Ontiveros said.
She went in for her last round of chemo almost a year later on Sept 30.
“Going into my last round of chemo felt surreal to me. I didn’t feel like it was going to be over that easily. I was so used to constantly going to the hospital and to doctor appointments that it was very weird to think I would ever be done with it,” Ontiveros said.
After a year of five surgeries and 80 rounds of chemotherapy, she is on track to graduate with her class, and returns to PRHS a survivor.
Ontiveros has beaten the cancer, but there are still battles she must face. Chemotherapy has vicious side effects along with its benefits. Nerves in her hands and feet have been damaged as a result of one of the types of chemo she received.
“I have a long recovery process ahead of me… My hands were able to recover but I have been working on my feet. It feels like my feet are slightly paralyzed. It makes simple things such as running impossible for me,” Ontiveros said.
As Ontiveros was fighting her cancer, PRHS rallied behind her to let her know she was not alone. Students organized “DOin’ it for Danae”. Cheer sold t-shirts, raising over $1000, and Crimson donated several hundred dollars of bracelet sales to Danae’s family. Juniors Ryan O’Mahoney and Jeff Neuman put together a Shave-A-Thon, where 11 students and seven faculty members shaved their heads and raised $2,655.
Physics teacher Mark Fairbank became her home hospital teacher and helped her with all her subjects.
“I had a passion to see Danae finish school on time. I knew she was a very bright student,” said Fairbank, who worked hard to prepare himself to teach Danae, despite some of the subjects being difficult for him. His support, both with her education and emotionally, helped Ontiveros immensely.
“I’m really grateful because if it wasn’t for him, I would be really far behind and I probably wouldn’t get to graduate with my class,” Ontiveros said.
PRHS students would contact her to let her know they were supporting her
“It was amazing to see the support from everyone and it was something I never would have expected. It was definitely very uplifting and [it] meant the world to[me]” Ontiveros said.
A lot has changed for Ontiveros in the last year, but she looks forward to returning to the normalcy of high school.
“I missed seeing all of my friends and classmates at PRHS. In a lot of ways my high school experience was taken from me and I hope to make up for what I missed out on,” Ontiveros said.
Her friends are excited to see her back and well at PRHS.
“It feels more normal with her at school now. It’s like that missing piece is back now,” Claire Farrell said. Maddi Moore agrees that Ontiveros’s return has meant a return to normality for their group.
“We were able to pick up where we left off,” she said.
Danae Ontiveros has triumphed over the trial she faced this year, and now she looks forward to graduating with her class and moving on to college, where she will study to become a pediatric oncology nurse, and one day help kids in situations similar to her own.

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