Cancer patient to graduate Summa Cum Laude from UF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- We first introduced you to Jacksonville newlyweds, Todd and Maja Blake in November of 2013. He's a cancer patient, and she is working to help find a cure for the deadly disease.

Eight months later their fight continues. Todd has a huge milestone just ahead and their story has gained national attention.

"It's awesome when we can still get married and have a dog and still have this attachment to reality," said Maja Blake. "Even though our reality is a lot different than other people it's nice to feel like you can still live a normal life."

Their reality for the past five years has included 600 hours of chemo therapy, 63 weeks in the hospital, two bone marrow transplants and 18 days of radiation.

"I don't know how long I have so I'm trying to make the most of it," said Todd.

He was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin's Lymphoma at the age of 18. Now 23 he's the President of "Live for Today," a Foundation that helps to make dreams come true for young adults battling cancer. And his own dream is about to become a reality. Saturday morning, Blake will walk across the stage at the University of Florida. He's graduating Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 GPA.

"I made it through and I did the best that I could," said Todd Blake. "There were definitely obstacles in the way."

He says the hardest part about living with cancer is trying to plan for your future and not knowing what's in store.

"It's really empowering to see him," said Maja. "Knowing that he doesn't have much time left and he's living every day to the fullest."

Blake and his wife are now packing their bags. After graduation in Gator Country they're headed to New York City to appear on the Today show.

"It's all happening at once," said Todd. "Peek excitement with everything going on."

Their story has gained national attention and continues to inspire. The Blake's are hopeful their now small Jacksonville Foundation will grow beyond it's 25 members to reach the more than 70,000 young adults diagnosed with a cancer every year in the US.

Maja is continuing her research at the Mayo Clinic. She's testing various types of cancer cells growth and reaction to medications. The young couple will appear on NBC's Today show Monday morning.


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