Franklin Countys First News

Mt. Blue graduate: Not everything is a given

Caela Seeley (right) and her father Anthony.

FARMINGTON - The Mt. Blue Campus gymnasium overflowed Sunday with 149 graduates and their many cheerleaders as the 2019 commencement ceremony got underway. The crowd was serenaded by some of the student body's most musically talented, and addressed by several seniors with words of wisdom to share.

That wisdom included themes of perseverance, focus and determination, among shared memories of joy and hardship. All of speakers and musicians shared a similar vantage point on the momentous occasion: it's bittersweet.

For graduating senior Caela Seeley, the sentiment was the same. She is sad to be finishing high school, but is excited for whatever comes next.

"I'll miss my teachers and all their support. They've been amazing," she said.

Seeley was not simply referring to some help on an essay, or explaining a math problem. She was referring to the staff's unwavering support through her recent diagnosis of rhabdomyosarcoma cancer.

Determined is an understatement when it comes to describing Seeley.

The senior faced all of the typical hurdles of someone about to finish his or her high school career: maintaining good grades, keeping up with extracurriculars, filling out college applications, preparing to leave their home turf and attending the numerous banquets, ceremonies and celebrations that seniors are expected to be at.

On top of the laundry list of things she and her classmates were facing, Seeley had the added responsibility of navigating the newly discovered cancer in her pancreas. Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma is rare, with difficult outcomes. Seeley was given a 20 percent chance of survival, along with a slew of emergency appointments, surgeries and medications.

But it didn't slow down. In the last three months since finding out, she has continued to play in softball games, attend practices and has remained in the Honor Society through weekly chemotherapy, countless trips to southern Maine and numerous hospitalizations.

"This kid has gone through hell and back, and has kept a good attitude the whole time," her father Anthony Seeley said. "She's very headstrong, every bit like her father."

The family has struggled since getting the news, but helped Seeley get through her final weeks of being a high schooler. From car maintenance for the frequent trips to house adaptations to make Seeley more comfortable, the family has been doing all they can to stay above water.

"There are times we wanna strangle each other, but at the end of the day, I'm her biggest fan," her dad said.

Seeley has been accepted to attend Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire, and was awarded a $25,000 scholarship, but had to defer due to her diagnosis. She plans to revisit the idea in a year or two, but for now will focus on feeling better.

"I've been through a lot in general, so I was aware of big life stuff already. But finding out about the cancer has opened up a whole new world. It's different. I didn't even know it existed until now," she said. "Not everything is a given. You never know if you have tomorrow or not."

Click here to join Team Caela on Facebook. To support the family financially, click here.

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4 Responses »

  1. Congratulations Caela!! Such a young age to be going through cancer. Way to rise above it. Prayers to you and may your future be bright and successful.

  2. It's rhabdomyosarcoma not pancreatic cancer it's a pediatric cancer

  3. Caela, you are an amazing student and human being. Best wishes to you as you embark on your next part of the journey. I'll be anxious to read more about your progress and very positive attitude.

  4. You are on of the most amazing young ladies ever. There is no one quite like you... You are the strongest most bravest fighter. Not a moment passes that we all pray for healing and wellness for you. You have taught many of your own friends, and people you will never know, what it means to truly trudge on and certainly persevere. We are so so proud of you.