Culver, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- South Ridge senior baseball player Matt Wood has fought and won one of the most important and difficult battles imaginable, and he did it all before his high school graduation.
That battle started when Matt was a freshman
"Your whole world just falls apart," his mom, Kathy, said.
"It's just a shock," his dad, John, recalled. "It really is. You just couldn't believe it."
In April 2011, he was having trouble breathing, so he went to the doctor --- but what he found out next, his family never saw coming.
"I brought him in thinking it was an inhaler we were going to get," Kathy remembered. "Then all of a sudden, he has a mass in his chest."
That mass turned out to be Stage II Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Just days later, Wood started chemotherapy -- with his parents still in disbelief.
"We still never thought it was cancer," John said. "It never even entered our minds, but that's what happens to people. It takes you off guard, and life suddenly changes. Things that were important aren't important."
Things like baseball then hit the back burner.
"If he strikes out, who cares, you know?" John said. "You're just a blessing to be out there."
While he had to take time off from playing ball, Matt says he remained optimistic throughout treatment.
"I don't want to say I didn't take it hard, but it's not like I had my spirits down the whole time," he said. "I just wanted to get through it and get over it."
And he did just that. Following nearly six months of chemotherapy and radiation, doctors told him the tumor was gone.
Now it's three years later, and the 18-year-old will walk across the stage in late May as part of his high school's graduating class.
"We're just happy that he's come this far," Kathy said, "and he has a good future ahead of him."
"It is very special that he's still here," John said. "Every day is a blessing then. Every day that you live, you know. You never know.
You never know when time will stop and your life will change forever.