Topsail High graduate survives cancer, beats odds to walk across stage

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Graduating high school is a milestone in anyone’s life. But for one Topsail High School Student, walking across that stage was a milestone in itself after he had to relearn how to walk.

“It’s been really difficult at times. But you know, you just keep going,” said Topsail High School graduate Tavish Wetherill.

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In 2015, Tavish went to an eye doctor because he was experiencing double vision. It’s then that doctors discovered a tumor in his brain. Tavish was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery to remove the tumor.

“The surgery went wrong, so now I’m like, I’m like this,” Tavish said. “And it’s been a journey.”

Tavish had to relearn how to walk, talk, swallow, and write, all while battling brain cancer.



“The hardest part of the past few years is how everyone treats me differently,” Tavish said. “It’s something to get used to.”

Todd Matthews was Tavish’s drafting teacher before he got sick.

“He just overcame so much. A lot of times you hear that teachers inspire students, but he has inspired me since the day I met him,” Matthews said. “He’s been through more in four years than most people ever go through in a lifetime.”

While Tavish was undergoing treatment and physical rehabilitation, Matthews came to his home to keep him caught up on schoolwork. On Friday, he handed Tavish his high school diploma.

“I didn’t think it was going to be an emotional thing. I was excited, but when I went to hug him, I almost lost it,” Matthews said. “To see him walk across the stage when we had to get him out of his wheelchair to sit in the seat just to do classwork with me. He couldn’t walk. He’s just a miracle walking.”

“I was determined to walk across that stage today. It’s been a big goal of mine, thanks to my trainer,” Tavish said.

In the fall, Tavish is headed to Appalachian State University. It’s the beginning of a new journey, one he’s excited for.

“I’m really looking forward to the relationships I make in college, and the academics of course,” Tavish said. “It’s going to be a fun adventure.”

As a member of the National Honor Society, Tavish had to maintain a GPA of 3.9 or higher. His teacher Mr. Matthews says he plans to keep in touch with Tavish as he moves on to this next chapter of his life.