Teen from Holly fights cancer and graduates top in her class

HOLLY, Colo. (KDVR) — Graduation day is finally here for Kristen Tefertiller.

The 18-year-old from Holly spent months of her high school career at Children’s Hospital Colorado going through treatment for acute myeloid leukemia.

But that did not hold her back. On Sunday, she will graduate as valedictorian of her class at Holly High School.

“I was so dedicated that I completed as much as I could with as much determination as I had,” Tefertiller said.

Tefertiller was diagnosed with AML, a life-threatening blood cancer, in August 2019.

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She went through three rounds of chemotherapy and had a bone marrow transplant. As part of a research study, the transplant included the use of umbilical cord cells.

“There were a couple of weeks at a time that I just couldn’t do anything, I was in so much pain because of the complications or the chemo,” she said.

But Tefertiller fought through it all with the goal of being valedictorian of her class. That’s something that providers at Children’s Hospital Colorado thought was next to impossible.

“But it’s obviously not impossible because she was able to actually do it, which is truly incredible,” said Dr. Robert Casey, Tefertiller’s pediatric psychologist at the hospital.

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“To be away from home for such an extended period of time, away from support and friends, and to be in the hospital not feeling well, to have the goal of maintaining that level of academic excellence was just really amazing to me,” Casey said.

Tefertiller appreciates all the support, and when she graduates, she is happy to say she will do it cancer free.

“I’m going to make this summer the best summer I’ve ever had,” she said.

Tefertiller plans to attend Grand Canyon University in Arizona in the fall. She wants to study forensic psychology.

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