GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Michelle Ferris is ready to take the trip from Kalamazoo to London for the Olympic Games. It was her wish after she overcame an unexpected hurdle.
"I want to see the swimmers," she said.
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For years, she and a friend dreamed of going to the Olympics in Europe. They had it all planned, had booked hotels, looked through all the guides, checked the cost of transportation. They spent their summers earning money and setting up fundraisers.
"The summer after my sophomore year (at Mattawan High School) was going to be the big fundraising," she told 24 Hour News 8. "And that's when I was diagnosed."
She had osteosarcoma -- bone cancer in her left hip.
"I'm pretty faith-based, so I put a lot of my faith into God, and He has his plan and I can't change it."
For more than nine months, she underwent an aggressive chemotherapy schedule, and had two surgeries. One removed part of her lung, while the other removed and replaced her left hip. It left an 8-inch scar as a permanent reminder.
"She had a rough go of it," said her mom, Julie Ferris. "She was in the hospital over 100 nights and she had many complications."
The heavy chemotherapy doses left her with partial and permanent hearing loss in both ears, "mainly high pitch frequencies," Michelle said. "So like female voices are really hard and some instruments I cannot hear."
She also has some memory issues.
"It was really difficult, especially with me. I was very secure with my brain beforehand, so not having that brain power afterwards is really, really hard."
Michelle, 18, missed nearly an entire year of high school, yet she managed to catch up and graduate on time from Mattawan High School this spring. She's set to attend GVSU this fall.
"I want to go into nursing and later become a doctor," she said. "I want to become a pediatric oncologist" -- a doctor who helps treat children with cancer.
She's in remission and enjoying life.
The Make A Wish Foundation granted her wish to go to the Olympics, although, she said with a laugh, "first they denied my wish for world domination, so I had to pick the next best thing."
The Ferris family was introduced to the Make A Wish organization "when friends of ours lost a daughter to a serious disease," mom Julie said. "They started fundraising for Make A Wish prior to even Michelle being diagnosed. For us to be then on the receiving end is quite humbling, and we just really appreciate everyone's time and effort. It has really given her something to look forward to."
The whole family -- Michelle, Julie, her dad Scott, her sister and three brothers - will all make the trip to London together.
"It means a lot. I don't know that face behind the supporters," Michelle said. "It's kind of like that mysterious superhero. It means a lot."
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