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East Grand Forks teenager who battled bone cancer shares inspiring story of survival

No one expected Rylie Heisler to walk across the stage to receive her diploma. It wasn't because she had failed any classes or didn't meet the standards required by the state of Minnesota to complete her high school education. The 18-year-old gir...

Rylie Heisler (right) and her sister Hadyn pose for a portrait at their home in East Grand Forks, Minn. on June 7, 2016. (Meg Oliphant/Grand Forks Herald)
Rylie Heisler (right) and her sister Hadyn pose for a portrait at their home in East Grand Forks, Minn. on June 7, 2016. (Meg Oliphant/Grand Forks Herald)

No one expected Rylie Heisler to walk across the stage to receive her diploma. It wasn't because she had failed any classes or didn't meet the standards required by the state of Minnesota to complete her high school education. The 18-year-old girl had pushed herself and did everything she could to finish her curriculum with no special treatment, even working from her bedside and handing in a paper one of her teachers said she could have bypassed. Rylie, a graduating senior of East Grand Forks High School, had finished school while battling bone cancer, meaning she had to do much of her homework for her senior year from a hospital room or home while recovering from chemo treatments. When it was time to take her high school diploma in hand during her graduation ceremony May 27 at the East Grand Forks Civic Recreation Center, she was supposed to be pushed across the graduation stage in a wheelchair. She told teachers she would not need it.
  "I just wanted to walk with everyone else," she said. "I felt like I could do it, so I did." With the rest of her class, she stood up from her chair-donning her green cap and gown-and waited in line, listening for her name to be called. "Rylie Heisler," Principal Brian Loer said before the crowd erupted in cheers and clapping. "'Don't cry, Rylie. Just hold it in,'" she thought to herself as she carried her diploma. "But I started crying anyway. I didn't expect everyone to do that." Just for Rylie, the graduation ceremony halted as the audience stood in support for the girl who kept smiling through her battle for survival. She said there was no other option but to stay positive and fight instead of letting it bring her down. "You can't," she said. "You just have to be happy. I've seen some kids be super sad and never leave their rooms and I don't want to be that way." The discovery Rylie's symptoms started with what appeared to be simple pain, she said. "Her knee was hurting," her mother Dee Heisler said, adding Rylie complained for several months her knee hurt after coming home from work at Tufte Manor as a certified medical assistant. "We took her to the doctor several times and we were told it was just chronic knee pain." Rylie made several attempts to alleviate the pain, including physical therapy, but nothing seemed to help, Dee said. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595822","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"375","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]] On Oct. 16, a lump on top of her right leg that looked like a pulled muscle appeared. Doctors performed an ultrasound and X-ray. An hour after leaving the appointment, Dee received the call that would change her family's lives forever: A tumor was discovered in Rylie's right femur. The Heislers were hopeful the tumor was not cancerous, as doctors had told them there was a 2 percent chance that was the case. About two weeks and one biopsy later, Dee received a call at work and was told Rylie's tumor, which was large and very aggressive, was cancerous. The teenager would be rushed to the University of Minnesota Children's Masonic Hospital for surgery to remove the tumor. She also would go through 18 chemo treatments in six rounds. "It was a very long drive home to have to tell your daughter that she has cancer," Dee said. 'Plan B' When Dee arrived at her house, Rylie was on bedrest in her room. The tumor was eating away at her bone and it was brittle, Dee said. After her mother told her the news, Rylie asked to be alone for a few minutes. "Then I went back to watching Netflix," Rylie said. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595824","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"375","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]] Dee said she was surprised at how well her daughter had taken the news. Dee said Rylie had thought she may have had cancer, but she was determined to stay positive. "It was just something that happened," Rylie said. That positive attitude continued throughout the treatments. It was as if Rylie always had what Dee calls 'Plan B,' or a backup plan. "When her hair fell out, she said, 'Oh, I'll save money on shampoo,'" Dee said. "Or someone said, 'These beds aren't the most comfortable,' and she would say, 'It could be worse.' "When she heard she couldn't go to prom, she said, 'That's OK. I'll just get chemo in my prom dress,'" she said, adding the hospital put on a prom for the girl. "She already had it all planned." 'The long haul' Those who have cancer are often supported by the community. Some bring food while others put on fundraisers. But the Heislers never expected the help and support they received. A GoFundMe page titled "Rylie's 'Bad to the Bone' Journey" garnered $5,545 in donations. Classmates came together and raised $4,000 with a penny war, filling up multiple five-gallon jugs with change and cash. T-shirt sales, a benefit breakfast at Ground Round Bar and Grill, a baked potato feed held by her school and other fundraising efforts brought in more than $24,000 for medical costs. "It's the most humbling experience we have ever had, but at the same time it is so enriching," Dee said. "It's overwhelming. It's just the most amazing thing." Monetary donations haven't been the only type of support the Heislers received. Neighbors offered to watch the house, their 16-year-old daughter, Hadyn, and the dog. Others brought care packages and food while work colleagues helped Rylie's parents keep up at work. Teachers also offered to travel to the Heislers' house, which is about 5 miles north of East Grand Forks, to tutor Rylie at home. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595825","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"332","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]] "We had offers from several teachers, not just one teacher in the fight," Dee said, adding the teacher would often tutor Rylie from the girl's bedside. The school asked how they could accommodate her through her treatments, though Rylie was determined to finish her senior year and graduate. Dee told the Herald in November a stranger who saw her and Rylie at Qdoba Mexican Grill, which is the girl's favorite restaurant, bought the senior's meal for her. "You just want to pinch yourself," Dee said. "I always knew we had good neighbors and good jobs. This just proves we are in the right place." The Heislers, including Rylie, are usually the ones helping others. She has a passion for helping others, whether it is taking care of the elderly or using her tax return to buy gifts for others. Dee said she still receives cards and messages from people saying they are praying for their family and Rylie, adding many have said they are "in this for the long haul." "They aren't lying," Dee said. "They still text as much now as when I first found out, and I think that that is so important because it has been such a long journey for us. That's what's gotten us through." Almost done The last seven months have been long for the Heislers, but Rylie is nearing the finish line. Her last chemo treatment was Thursday, and she is scheduled to have surgery to remove her port June 21, a sign that her cancer is in remission. "It doesn't feel like we are almost done," Rylie said. "It feels like we just started, but I'm super excited." There will be doctor appointments to follow, but most of what Rylie will face are the long-term side effects of chemo, including heart, kidney and hearing problems. Her knee also will finally have the chance to heal from the surgery that removed the tumor. Some medications Rylie may have to take for the rest of her life, and there is a chance the cancer could come back in her lungs. But Rylie said she and her family are ready for whatever comes next, adding she can't let herself be brought down by it. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"2595826","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"400","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"300"}}]] Rylie is looking forward to being a normal girl. She plans to go to Northland Community and Technical College in East Grand Forks to pursue a degree in nursing. For the summer, she said she is most looking forward to going to Devils Lake to camp and fish. She also will celebrate her graduation with an open house June 18. The family said they've been touched by how Rylie's story has affected others. The Children's Cancer Research Fund asked the family to help children with cancer. They've also given doctors at the hospital their name so families who have children can contact them for encouragement. Dee said her family wants to pay it forward by helping other children and bringing awareness to Rylie's story of survival - one filled with kindness and hope. "We've had lots of people come in because they are as scared as we were," Dee said. "We can help ease that. It was kind of funny because when we were the newbies we had people helping us." Dee said her family can't express how thankful they are for everyone's support from medical staff, friends and the community, adding there will be some sad goodbyes when they don't have to go back to the hospital in Minneapolis. "They saved our daughter's life," Dee said. "How do you thank somebody for that?"No one expected Rylie Heisler to walk across the stage to receive her diploma. It wasn't because she had failed any classes or didn't meet the standards required by the state of Minnesota to complete her high school education. The 18-year-old girl had pushed herself and did everything she could to finish her curriculum with no special treatment, even working from her bedside and handing in a paper one of her teachers said she could have bypassed. Rylie, a graduating senior of East Grand Forks High School, had finished school while battling bone cancer, meaning she had to do much of her homework for her senior year from a hospital room or home while recovering from chemo treatments. When it was time to take her high school diploma in hand during her graduation ceremony May 27 at the East Grand Forks Civic Recreation Center, she was supposed to be pushed across the graduation stage in a wheelchair. She told teachers she would not need it. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595820","attributes":{"alt":"Rylie Heisler receives a standing ovation as she crosses the stage at the East Grand Forks High School graduation. (Meg Oliphant","class":"media-image","height":"2082","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"2987"}}]]   "I just wanted to walk with everyone else," she said. "I felt like I could do it, so I did." With the rest of her class, she stood up from her chair-donning her green cap and gown-and waited in line, listening for her name to be called. "Rylie Heisler," Principal Brian Loer said before the crowd erupted in cheers and clapping. "'Don't cry, Rylie. Just hold it in,'" she thought to herself as she carried her diploma. "But I started crying anyway. I didn't expect everyone to do that." Just for Rylie, the graduation ceremony halted as the audience stood in support for the girl who kept smiling through her battle for survival. She said there was no other option but to stay positive and fight instead of letting it bring her down. "You can't," she said. "You just have to be happy. I've seen some kids be super sad and never leave their rooms and I don't want to be that way." The discovery Rylie's symptoms started with what appeared to be simple pain, she said. "Her knee was hurting," her mother Dee Heisler said, adding Rylie complained for several months her knee hurt after coming home from work at Tufte Manor as a certified medical assistant. "We took her to the doctor several times and we were told it was just chronic knee pain." Rylie made several attempts to alleviate the pain, including physical therapy, but nothing seemed to help, Dee said.
On Oct. 16, a lump on top of her right leg that looked like a pulled muscle appeared. Doctors performed an ultrasound and X-ray. An hour after leaving the appointment, Dee received the call that would change her family's lives forever: A tumor was discovered in Rylie's right femur. The Heislers were hopeful the tumor was not cancerous, as doctors had told them there was a 2 percent chance that was the case. About two weeks and one biopsy later, Dee received a call at work and was told Rylie's tumor, which was large and very aggressive, was cancerous. The teenager would be rushed to the University of Minnesota Children's Masonic Hospital for surgery to remove the tumor. She also would go through 18 chemo treatments in six rounds. "It was a very long drive home to have to tell your daughter that she has cancer," Dee said. 'Plan B' When Dee arrived at her house, Rylie was on bedrest in her room. The tumor was eating away at her bone and it was brittle, Dee said. After her mother told her the news, Rylie asked to be alone for a few minutes. "Then I went back to watching Netflix," Rylie said. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595824","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"375","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]] Dee said she was surprised at how well her daughter had taken the news. Dee said Rylie had thought she may have had cancer, but she was determined to stay positive. "It was just something that happened," Rylie said. That positive attitude continued throughout the treatments. It was as if Rylie always had what Dee calls 'Plan B,' or a backup plan. "When her hair fell out, she said, 'Oh, I'll save money on shampoo,'" Dee said. "Or someone said, 'These beds aren't the most comfortable,' and she would say, 'It could be worse.' "When she heard she couldn't go to prom, she said, 'That's OK. I'll just get chemo in my prom dress,'" she said, adding the hospital put on a prom for the girl. "She already had it all planned." 'The long haul' Those who have cancer are often supported by the community. Some bring food while others put on fundraisers. But the Heislers never expected the help and support they received. A GoFundMe page titled "Rylie's 'Bad to the Bone' Journey" garnered $5,545 in donations. Classmates came together and raised $4,000 with a penny war, filling up multiple five-gallon jugs with change and cash. T-shirt sales, a benefit breakfast at Ground Round Bar and Grill, a baked potato feed held by her school and other fundraising efforts brought in more than $24,000 for medical costs. "It's the most humbling experience we have ever had, but at the same time it is so enriching," Dee said. "It's overwhelming. It's just the most amazing thing." Monetary donations haven't been the only type of support the Heislers received. Neighbors offered to watch the house, their 16-year-old daughter, Hadyn, and the dog. Others brought care packages and food while work colleagues helped Rylie's parents keep up at work. Teachers also offered to travel to the Heislers' house, which is about 5 miles north of East Grand Forks, to tutor Rylie at home. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595825","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"332","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]] "We had offers from several teachers, not just one teacher in the fight," Dee said, adding the teacher would often tutor Rylie from the girl's bedside. The school asked how they could accommodate her through her treatments, though Rylie was determined to finish her senior year and graduate. Dee told the Herald in November a stranger who saw her and Rylie at Qdoba Mexican Grill, which is the girl's favorite restaurant, bought the senior's meal for her. "You just want to pinch yourself," Dee said. "I always knew we had good neighbors and good jobs. This just proves we are in the right place." The Heislers, including Rylie, are usually the ones helping others. She has a passion for helping others, whether it is taking care of the elderly or using her tax return to buy gifts for others. Dee said she still receives cards and messages from people saying they are praying for their family and Rylie, adding many have said they are "in this for the long haul." "They aren't lying," Dee said. "They still text as much now as when I first found out, and I think that that is so important because it has been such a long journey for us. That's what's gotten us through." Almost done The last seven months have been long for the Heislers, but Rylie is nearing the finish line. Her last chemo treatment was Thursday, and she is scheduled to have surgery to remove her port June 21, a sign that her cancer is in remission. "It doesn't feel like we are almost done," Rylie said. "It feels like we just started, but I'm super excited." There will be doctor appointments to follow, but most of what Rylie will face are the long-term side effects of chemo, including heart, kidney and hearing problems. Her knee also will finally have the chance to heal from the surgery that removed the tumor. Some medications Rylie may have to take for the rest of her life, and there is a chance the cancer could come back in her lungs. But Rylie said she and her family are ready for whatever comes next, adding she can't let herself be brought down by it. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"2595826","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"400","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"300"}}]] Rylie is looking forward to being a normal girl. She plans to go to Northland Community and Technical College in East Grand Forks to pursue a degree in nursing. For the summer, she said she is most looking forward to going to Devils Lake to camp and fish. She also will celebrate her graduation with an open house June 18. The family said they've been touched by how Rylie's story has affected others. The Children's Cancer Research Fund asked the family to help children with cancer. They've also given doctors at the hospital their name so families who have children can contact them for encouragement. Dee said her family wants to pay it forward by helping other children and bringing awareness to Rylie's story of survival - one filled with kindness and hope. "We've had lots of people come in because they are as scared as we were," Dee said. "We can help ease that. It was kind of funny because when we were the newbies we had people helping us." Dee said her family can't express how thankful they are for everyone's support from medical staff, friends and the community, adding there will be some sad goodbyes when they don't have to go back to the hospital in Minneapolis. "They saved our daughter's life," Dee said. "How do you thank somebody for that?"No one expected Rylie Heisler to walk across the stage to receive her diploma. It wasn't because she had failed any classes or didn't meet the standards required by the state of Minnesota to complete her high school education. The 18-year-old girl had pushed herself and did everything she could to finish her curriculum with no special treatment, even working from her bedside and handing in a paper one of her teachers said she could have bypassed. Rylie, a graduating senior of East Grand Forks High School, had finished school while battling bone cancer, meaning she had to do much of her homework for her senior year from a hospital room or home while recovering from chemo treatments. When it was time to take her high school diploma in hand during her graduation ceremony May 27 at the East Grand Forks Civic Recreation Center, she was supposed to be pushed across the graduation stage in a wheelchair. She told teachers she would not need it. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595820","attributes":{"alt":"Rylie Heisler receives a standing ovation as she crosses the stage at the East Grand Forks High School graduation. (Meg Oliphant","class":"media-image","height":"2082","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"2987"}}]]   "I just wanted to walk with everyone else," she said. "I felt like I could do it, so I did." With the rest of her class, she stood up from her chair-donning her green cap and gown-and waited in line, listening for her name to be called. "Rylie Heisler," Principal Brian Loer said before the crowd erupted in cheers and clapping. "'Don't cry, Rylie. Just hold it in,'" she thought to herself as she carried her diploma. "But I started crying anyway. I didn't expect everyone to do that." Just for Rylie, the graduation ceremony halted as the audience stood in support for the girl who kept smiling through her battle for survival. She said there was no other option but to stay positive and fight instead of letting it bring her down. "You can't," she said. "You just have to be happy. I've seen some kids be super sad and never leave their rooms and I don't want to be that way." The discovery Rylie's symptoms started with what appeared to be simple pain, she said. "Her knee was hurting," her mother Dee Heisler said, adding Rylie complained for several months her knee hurt after coming home from work at Tufte Manor as a certified medical assistant. "We took her to the doctor several times and we were told it was just chronic knee pain." Rylie made several attempts to alleviate the pain, including physical therapy, but nothing seemed to help, Dee said. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595822","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"375","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]] On Oct. 16, a lump on top of her right leg that looked like a pulled muscle appeared. Doctors performed an ultrasound and X-ray. An hour after leaving the appointment, Dee received the call that would change her family's lives forever: A tumor was discovered in Rylie's right femur. The Heislers were hopeful the tumor was not cancerous, as doctors had told them there was a 2 percent chance that was the case. About two weeks and one biopsy later, Dee received a call at work and was told Rylie's tumor, which was large and very aggressive, was cancerous. The teenager would be rushed to the University of Minnesota Children's Masonic Hospital for surgery to remove the tumor. She also would go through 18 chemo treatments in six rounds. "It was a very long drive home to have to tell your daughter that she has cancer," Dee said. 'Plan B' When Dee arrived at her house, Rylie was on bedrest in her room. The tumor was eating away at her bone and it was brittle, Dee said. After her mother told her the news, Rylie asked to be alone for a few minutes. "Then I went back to watching Netflix," Rylie said.
Dee said she was surprised at how well her daughter had taken the news. Dee said Rylie had thought she may have had cancer, but she was determined to stay positive. "It was just something that happened," Rylie said. That positive attitude continued throughout the treatments. It was as if Rylie always had what Dee calls 'Plan B,' or a backup plan. "When her hair fell out, she said, 'Oh, I'll save money on shampoo,'" Dee said. "Or someone said, 'These beds aren't the most comfortable,' and she would say, 'It could be worse.' "When she heard she couldn't go to prom, she said, 'That's OK. I'll just get chemo in my prom dress,'" she said, adding the hospital put on a prom for the girl. "She already had it all planned." 'The long haul' Those who have cancer are often supported by the community. Some bring food while others put on fundraisers. But the Heislers never expected the help and support they received. A GoFundMe page titled "Rylie's 'Bad to the Bone' Journey" garnered $5,545 in donations. Classmates came together and raised $4,000 with a penny war, filling up multiple five-gallon jugs with change and cash. T-shirt sales, a benefit breakfast at Ground Round Bar and Grill, a baked potato feed held by her school and other fundraising efforts brought in more than $24,000 for medical costs. "It's the most humbling experience we have ever had, but at the same time it is so enriching," Dee said. "It's overwhelming. It's just the most amazing thing." Monetary donations haven't been the only type of support the Heislers received. Neighbors offered to watch the house, their 16-year-old daughter, Hadyn, and the dog. Others brought care packages and food while work colleagues helped Rylie's parents keep up at work. Teachers also offered to travel to the Heislers' house, which is about 5 miles north of East Grand Forks, to tutor Rylie at home. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595825","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"332","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]] "We had offers from several teachers, not just one teacher in the fight," Dee said, adding the teacher would often tutor Rylie from the girl's bedside. The school asked how they could accommodate her through her treatments, though Rylie was determined to finish her senior year and graduate. Dee told the Herald in November a stranger who saw her and Rylie at Qdoba Mexican Grill, which is the girl's favorite restaurant, bought the senior's meal for her. "You just want to pinch yourself," Dee said. "I always knew we had good neighbors and good jobs. This just proves we are in the right place." The Heislers, including Rylie, are usually the ones helping others. She has a passion for helping others, whether it is taking care of the elderly or using her tax return to buy gifts for others. Dee said she still receives cards and messages from people saying they are praying for their family and Rylie, adding many have said they are "in this for the long haul." "They aren't lying," Dee said. "They still text as much now as when I first found out, and I think that that is so important because it has been such a long journey for us. That's what's gotten us through." Almost done The last seven months have been long for the Heislers, but Rylie is nearing the finish line. Her last chemo treatment was Thursday, and she is scheduled to have surgery to remove her port June 21, a sign that her cancer is in remission. "It doesn't feel like we are almost done," Rylie said. "It feels like we just started, but I'm super excited." There will be doctor appointments to follow, but most of what Rylie will face are the long-term side effects of chemo, including heart, kidney and hearing problems. Her knee also will finally have the chance to heal from the surgery that removed the tumor. Some medications Rylie may have to take for the rest of her life, and there is a chance the cancer could come back in her lungs. But Rylie said she and her family are ready for whatever comes next, adding she can't let herself be brought down by it. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"2595826","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"400","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"300"}}]] Rylie is looking forward to being a normal girl. She plans to go to Northland Community and Technical College in East Grand Forks to pursue a degree in nursing. For the summer, she said she is most looking forward to going to Devils Lake to camp and fish. She also will celebrate her graduation with an open house June 18. The family said they've been touched by how Rylie's story has affected others. The Children's Cancer Research Fund asked the family to help children with cancer. They've also given doctors at the hospital their name so families who have children can contact them for encouragement. Dee said her family wants to pay it forward by helping other children and bringing awareness to Rylie's story of survival - one filled with kindness and hope. "We've had lots of people come in because they are as scared as we were," Dee said. "We can help ease that. It was kind of funny because when we were the newbies we had people helping us." Dee said her family can't express how thankful they are for everyone's support from medical staff, friends and the community, adding there will be some sad goodbyes when they don't have to go back to the hospital in Minneapolis. "They saved our daughter's life," Dee said. "How do you thank somebody for that?"No one expected Rylie Heisler to walk across the stage to receive her diploma. It wasn't because she had failed any classes or didn't meet the standards required by the state of Minnesota to complete her high school education. The 18-year-old girl had pushed herself and did everything she could to finish her curriculum with no special treatment, even working from her bedside and handing in a paper one of her teachers said she could have bypassed. Rylie, a graduating senior of East Grand Forks High School, had finished school while battling bone cancer, meaning she had to do much of her homework for her senior year from a hospital room or home while recovering from chemo treatments. When it was time to take her high school diploma in hand during her graduation ceremony May 27 at the East Grand Forks Civic Recreation Center, she was supposed to be pushed across the graduation stage in a wheelchair. She told teachers she would not need it. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595820","attributes":{"alt":"Rylie Heisler receives a standing ovation as she crosses the stage at the East Grand Forks High School graduation. (Meg Oliphant","class":"media-image","height":"2082","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"2987"}}]]   "I just wanted to walk with everyone else," she said. "I felt like I could do it, so I did." With the rest of her class, she stood up from her chair-donning her green cap and gown-and waited in line, listening for her name to be called. "Rylie Heisler," Principal Brian Loer said before the crowd erupted in cheers and clapping. "'Don't cry, Rylie. Just hold it in,'" she thought to herself as she carried her diploma. "But I started crying anyway. I didn't expect everyone to do that." Just for Rylie, the graduation ceremony halted as the audience stood in support for the girl who kept smiling through her battle for survival. She said there was no other option but to stay positive and fight instead of letting it bring her down. "You can't," she said. "You just have to be happy. I've seen some kids be super sad and never leave their rooms and I don't want to be that way." The discovery Rylie's symptoms started with what appeared to be simple pain, she said. "Her knee was hurting," her mother Dee Heisler said, adding Rylie complained for several months her knee hurt after coming home from work at Tufte Manor as a certified medical assistant. "We took her to the doctor several times and we were told it was just chronic knee pain." Rylie made several attempts to alleviate the pain, including physical therapy, but nothing seemed to help, Dee said. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595822","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"375","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]] On Oct. 16, a lump on top of her right leg that looked like a pulled muscle appeared. Doctors performed an ultrasound and X-ray. An hour after leaving the appointment, Dee received the call that would change her family's lives forever: A tumor was discovered in Rylie's right femur. The Heislers were hopeful the tumor was not cancerous, as doctors had told them there was a 2 percent chance that was the case. About two weeks and one biopsy later, Dee received a call at work and was told Rylie's tumor, which was large and very aggressive, was cancerous. The teenager would be rushed to the University of Minnesota Children's Masonic Hospital for surgery to remove the tumor. She also would go through 18 chemo treatments in six rounds. "It was a very long drive home to have to tell your daughter that she has cancer," Dee said. 'Plan B' When Dee arrived at her house, Rylie was on bedrest in her room. The tumor was eating away at her bone and it was brittle, Dee said. After her mother told her the news, Rylie asked to be alone for a few minutes. "Then I went back to watching Netflix," Rylie said. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595824","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"375","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]] Dee said she was surprised at how well her daughter had taken the news. Dee said Rylie had thought she may have had cancer, but she was determined to stay positive. "It was just something that happened," Rylie said. That positive attitude continued throughout the treatments. It was as if Rylie always had what Dee calls 'Plan B,' or a backup plan. "When her hair fell out, she said, 'Oh, I'll save money on shampoo,'" Dee said. "Or someone said, 'These beds aren't the most comfortable,' and she would say, 'It could be worse.' "When she heard she couldn't go to prom, she said, 'That's OK. I'll just get chemo in my prom dress,'" she said, adding the hospital put on a prom for the girl. "She already had it all planned." 'The long haul' Those who have cancer are often supported by the community. Some bring food while others put on fundraisers. But the Heislers never expected the help and support they received. A GoFundMe page titled "Rylie's 'Bad to the Bone' Journey" garnered $5,545 in donations. Classmates came together and raised $4,000 with a penny war, filling up multiple five-gallon jugs with change and cash. T-shirt sales, a benefit breakfast at Ground Round Bar and Grill, a baked potato feed held by her school and other fundraising efforts brought in more than $24,000 for medical costs. "It's the most humbling experience we have ever had, but at the same time it is so enriching," Dee said. "It's overwhelming. It's just the most amazing thing." Monetary donations haven't been the only type of support the Heislers received. Neighbors offered to watch the house, their 16-year-old daughter, Hadyn, and the dog. Others brought care packages and food while work colleagues helped Rylie's parents keep up at work. Teachers also offered to travel to the Heislers' house, which is about 5 miles north of East Grand Forks, to tutor Rylie at home.
"We had offers from several teachers, not just one teacher in the fight," Dee said, adding the teacher would often tutor Rylie from the girl's bedside. The school asked how they could accommodate her through her treatments, though Rylie was determined to finish her senior year and graduate. Dee told the Herald in November a stranger who saw her and Rylie at Qdoba Mexican Grill, which is the girl's favorite restaurant, bought the senior's meal for her. "You just want to pinch yourself," Dee said. "I always knew we had good neighbors and good jobs. This just proves we are in the right place." The Heislers, including Rylie, are usually the ones helping others. She has a passion for helping others, whether it is taking care of the elderly or using her tax return to buy gifts for others. Dee said she still receives cards and messages from people saying they are praying for their family and Rylie, adding many have said they are "in this for the long haul." "They aren't lying," Dee said. "They still text as much now as when I first found out, and I think that that is so important because it has been such a long journey for us. That's what's gotten us through." Almost done The last seven months have been long for the Heislers, but Rylie is nearing the finish line. Her last chemo treatment was Thursday, and she is scheduled to have surgery to remove her port June 21, a sign that her cancer is in remission. "It doesn't feel like we are almost done," Rylie said. "It feels like we just started, but I'm super excited." There will be doctor appointments to follow, but most of what Rylie will face are the long-term side effects of chemo, including heart, kidney and hearing problems. Her knee also will finally have the chance to heal from the surgery that removed the tumor. Some medications Rylie may have to take for the rest of her life, and there is a chance the cancer could come back in her lungs. But Rylie said she and her family are ready for whatever comes next, adding she can't let herself be brought down by it. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"2595826","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"400","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"300"}}]] Rylie is looking forward to being a normal girl. She plans to go to Northland Community and Technical College in East Grand Forks to pursue a degree in nursing. For the summer, she said she is most looking forward to going to Devils Lake to camp and fish. She also will celebrate her graduation with an open house June 18. The family said they've been touched by how Rylie's story has affected others. The Children's Cancer Research Fund asked the family to help children with cancer. They've also given doctors at the hospital their name so families who have children can contact them for encouragement. Dee said her family wants to pay it forward by helping other children and bringing awareness to Rylie's story of survival - one filled with kindness and hope. "We've had lots of people come in because they are as scared as we were," Dee said. "We can help ease that. It was kind of funny because when we were the newbies we had people helping us." Dee said her family can't express how thankful they are for everyone's support from medical staff, friends and the community, adding there will be some sad goodbyes when they don't have to go back to the hospital in Minneapolis. "They saved our daughter's life," Dee said. "How do you thank somebody for that?"No one expected Rylie Heisler to walk across the stage to receive her diploma. It wasn't because she had failed any classes or didn't meet the standards required by the state of Minnesota to complete her high school education. The 18-year-old girl had pushed herself and did everything she could to finish her curriculum with no special treatment, even working from her bedside and handing in a paper one of her teachers said she could have bypassed. Rylie, a graduating senior of East Grand Forks High School, had finished school while battling bone cancer, meaning she had to do much of her homework for her senior year from a hospital room or home while recovering from chemo treatments. When it was time to take her high school diploma in hand during her graduation ceremony May 27 at the East Grand Forks Civic Recreation Center, she was supposed to be pushed across the graduation stage in a wheelchair. She told teachers she would not need it. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595820","attributes":{"alt":"Rylie Heisler receives a standing ovation as she crosses the stage at the East Grand Forks High School graduation. (Meg Oliphant","class":"media-image","height":"2082","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"2987"}}]]   "I just wanted to walk with everyone else," she said. "I felt like I could do it, so I did." With the rest of her class, she stood up from her chair-donning her green cap and gown-and waited in line, listening for her name to be called. "Rylie Heisler," Principal Brian Loer said before the crowd erupted in cheers and clapping. "'Don't cry, Rylie. Just hold it in,'" she thought to herself as she carried her diploma. "But I started crying anyway. I didn't expect everyone to do that." Just for Rylie, the graduation ceremony halted as the audience stood in support for the girl who kept smiling through her battle for survival. She said there was no other option but to stay positive and fight instead of letting it bring her down. "You can't," she said. "You just have to be happy. I've seen some kids be super sad and never leave their rooms and I don't want to be that way." The discovery Rylie's symptoms started with what appeared to be simple pain, she said. "Her knee was hurting," her mother Dee Heisler said, adding Rylie complained for several months her knee hurt after coming home from work at Tufte Manor as a certified medical assistant. "We took her to the doctor several times and we were told it was just chronic knee pain." Rylie made several attempts to alleviate the pain, including physical therapy, but nothing seemed to help, Dee said. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595822","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"375","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]] On Oct. 16, a lump on top of her right leg that looked like a pulled muscle appeared. Doctors performed an ultrasound and X-ray. An hour after leaving the appointment, Dee received the call that would change her family's lives forever: A tumor was discovered in Rylie's right femur. The Heislers were hopeful the tumor was not cancerous, as doctors had told them there was a 2 percent chance that was the case. About two weeks and one biopsy later, Dee received a call at work and was told Rylie's tumor, which was large and very aggressive, was cancerous. The teenager would be rushed to the University of Minnesota Children's Masonic Hospital for surgery to remove the tumor. She also would go through 18 chemo treatments in six rounds. "It was a very long drive home to have to tell your daughter that she has cancer," Dee said. 'Plan B' When Dee arrived at her house, Rylie was on bedrest in her room. The tumor was eating away at her bone and it was brittle, Dee said. After her mother told her the news, Rylie asked to be alone for a few minutes. "Then I went back to watching Netflix," Rylie said. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595824","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"375","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]] Dee said she was surprised at how well her daughter had taken the news. Dee said Rylie had thought she may have had cancer, but she was determined to stay positive. "It was just something that happened," Rylie said. That positive attitude continued throughout the treatments. It was as if Rylie always had what Dee calls 'Plan B,' or a backup plan. "When her hair fell out, she said, 'Oh, I'll save money on shampoo,'" Dee said. "Or someone said, 'These beds aren't the most comfortable,' and she would say, 'It could be worse.' "When she heard she couldn't go to prom, she said, 'That's OK. I'll just get chemo in my prom dress,'" she said, adding the hospital put on a prom for the girl. "She already had it all planned." 'The long haul' Those who have cancer are often supported by the community. Some bring food while others put on fundraisers. But the Heislers never expected the help and support they received. A GoFundMe page titled "Rylie's 'Bad to the Bone' Journey" garnered $5,545 in donations. Classmates came together and raised $4,000 with a penny war, filling up multiple five-gallon jugs with change and cash. T-shirt sales, a benefit breakfast at Ground Round Bar and Grill, a baked potato feed held by her school and other fundraising efforts brought in more than $24,000 for medical costs. "It's the most humbling experience we have ever had, but at the same time it is so enriching," Dee said. "It's overwhelming. It's just the most amazing thing." Monetary donations haven't been the only type of support the Heislers received. Neighbors offered to watch the house, their 16-year-old daughter, Hadyn, and the dog. Others brought care packages and food while work colleagues helped Rylie's parents keep up at work. Teachers also offered to travel to the Heislers' house, which is about 5 miles north of East Grand Forks, to tutor Rylie at home. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595825","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"332","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]] "We had offers from several teachers, not just one teacher in the fight," Dee said, adding the teacher would often tutor Rylie from the girl's bedside. The school asked how they could accommodate her through her treatments, though Rylie was determined to finish her senior year and graduate. Dee told the Herald in November a stranger who saw her and Rylie at Qdoba Mexican Grill, which is the girl's favorite restaurant, bought the senior's meal for her. "You just want to pinch yourself," Dee said. "I always knew we had good neighbors and good jobs. This just proves we are in the right place." The Heislers, including Rylie, are usually the ones helping others. She has a passion for helping others, whether it is taking care of the elderly or using her tax return to buy gifts for others. Dee said she still receives cards and messages from people saying they are praying for their family and Rylie, adding many have said they are "in this for the long haul." "They aren't lying," Dee said. "They still text as much now as when I first found out, and I think that that is so important because it has been such a long journey for us. That's what's gotten us through." Almost done The last seven months have been long for the Heislers, but Rylie is nearing the finish line. Her last chemo treatment was Thursday, and she is scheduled to have surgery to remove her port June 21, a sign that her cancer is in remission. "It doesn't feel like we are almost done," Rylie said. "It feels like we just started, but I'm super excited." There will be doctor appointments to follow, but most of what Rylie will face are the long-term side effects of chemo, including heart, kidney and hearing problems. Her knee also will finally have the chance to heal from the surgery that removed the tumor. Some medications Rylie may have to take for the rest of her life, and there is a chance the cancer could come back in her lungs. But Rylie said she and her family are ready for whatever comes next, adding she can't let herself be brought down by it.
 Rylie is looking forward to being a normal girl. She plans to go to Northland Community and Technical College in East Grand Forks to pursue a degree in nursing. For the summer, she said she is most looking forward to going to Devils Lake to camp and fish. She also will celebrate her graduation with an open house June 18. The family said they've been touched by how Rylie's story has affected others. The Children's Cancer Research Fund asked the family to help children with cancer. They've also given doctors at the hospital their name so families who have children can contact them for encouragement. Dee said her family wants to pay it forward by helping other children and bringing awareness to Rylie's story of survival - one filled with kindness and hope. "We've had lots of people come in because they are as scared as we were," Dee said. "We can help ease that. It was kind of funny because when we were the newbies we had people helping us." Dee said her family can't express how thankful they are for everyone's support from medical staff, friends and the community, adding there will be some sad goodbyes when they don't have to go back to the hospital in Minneapolis. "They saved our daughter's life," Dee said. "How do you thank somebody for that?"No one expected Rylie Heisler to walk across the stage to receive her diploma.It wasn't because she had failed any classes or didn't meet the standards required by the state of Minnesota to complete her high school education. The 18-year-old girl had pushed herself and did everything she could to finish her curriculum with no special treatment, even working from her bedside and handing in a paper one of her teachers said she could have bypassed.Rylie, a graduating senior of East Grand Forks High School, had finished school while battling bone cancer, meaning she had to do much of her homework for her senior year from a hospital room or home while recovering from chemo treatments.When it was time to take her high school diploma in hand during her graduation ceremony May 27 at the East Grand Forks Civic Recreation Center, she was supposed to be pushed across the graduation stage in a wheelchair.She told teachers she would not need it.
 "I just wanted to walk with everyone else," she said. "I felt like I could do it, so I did."With the rest of her class, she stood up from her chair-donning her green cap and gown-and waited in line, listening for her name to be called."Rylie Heisler," Principal Brian Loer said before the crowd erupted in cheers and clapping."'Don't cry, Rylie. Just hold it in,'" she thought to herself as she carried her diploma. "But I started crying anyway. I didn't expect everyone to do that."Just for Rylie, the graduation ceremony halted as the audience stood in support for the girl who kept smiling through her battle for survival.She said there was no other option but to stay positive and fight instead of letting it bring her down."You can't," she said. "You just have to be happy. I've seen some kids be super sad and never leave their rooms and I don't want to be that way."The discoveryRylie's symptoms started with what appeared to be simple pain, she said."Her knee was hurting," her mother Dee Heisler said, adding Rylie complained for several months her knee hurt after coming home from work at Tufte Manor as a certified medical assistant. "We took her to the doctor several times and we were told it was just chronic knee pain."Rylie made several attempts to alleviate the pain, including physical therapy, but nothing seemed to help, Dee said.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595822","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"375","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]]On Oct. 16, a lump on top of her right leg that looked like a pulled muscle appeared. Doctors performed an ultrasound and X-ray.An hour after leaving the appointment, Dee received the call that would change her family's lives forever: A tumor was discovered in Rylie's right femur.The Heislers were hopeful the tumor was not cancerous, as doctors had told them there was a 2 percent chance that was the case.About two weeks and one biopsy later, Dee received a call at work and was told Rylie's tumor, which was large and very aggressive, was cancerous. The teenager would be rushed to the University of Minnesota Children's Masonic Hospital for surgery to remove the tumor. She also would go through 18 chemo treatments in six rounds."It was a very long drive home to have to tell your daughter that she has cancer," Dee said.'Plan B'When Dee arrived at her house, Rylie was on bedrest in her room. The tumor was eating away at her bone and it was brittle, Dee said.After her mother told her the news, Rylie asked to be alone for a few minutes."Then I went back to watching Netflix," Rylie said.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595824","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"375","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]]Dee said she was surprised at how well her daughter had taken the news. Dee said Rylie had thought she may have had cancer, but she was determined to stay positive."It was just something that happened," Rylie said.That positive attitude continued throughout the treatments. It was as if Rylie always had what Dee calls 'Plan B,' or a backup plan."When her hair fell out, she said, 'Oh, I'll save money on shampoo,'" Dee said. "Or someone said, 'These beds aren't the most comfortable,' and she would say, 'It could be worse.'"When she heard she couldn't go to prom, she said, 'That's OK. I'll just get chemo in my prom dress,'" she said, adding the hospital put on a prom for the girl. "She already had it all planned."'The long haul'Those who have cancer are often supported by the community. Some bring food while others put on fundraisers.But the Heislers never expected the help and support they received. A GoFundMe page titled "Rylie's 'Bad to the Bone' Journey" garnered $5,545 in donations. Classmates came together and raised $4,000 with a penny war, filling up multiple five-gallon jugs with change and cash. T-shirt sales, a benefit breakfast at Ground Round Bar and Grill, a baked potato feed held by her school and other fundraising efforts brought in more than $24,000 for medical costs."It's the most humbling experience we have ever had, but at the same time it is so enriching," Dee said. "It's overwhelming. It's just the most amazing thing."Monetary donations haven't been the only type of support the Heislers received. Neighbors offered to watch the house, their 16-year-old daughter, Hadyn, and the dog. Others brought care packages and food while work colleagues helped Rylie's parents keep up at work.Teachers also offered to travel to the Heislers' house, which is about 5 miles north of East Grand Forks, to tutor Rylie at home.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595825","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"332","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]]"We had offers from several teachers, not just one teacher in the fight," Dee said, adding the teacher would often tutor Rylie from the girl's bedside.The school asked how they could accommodate her through her treatments, though Rylie was determined to finish her senior year and graduate.Dee told the Herald in November a stranger who saw her and Rylie at Qdoba Mexican Grill, which is the girl's favorite restaurant, bought the senior's meal for her."You just want to pinch yourself," Dee said. "I always knew we had good neighbors and good jobs. This just proves we are in the right place."The Heislers, including Rylie, are usually the ones helping others. She has a passion for helping others, whether it is taking care of the elderly or using her tax return to buy gifts for others.Dee said she still receives cards and messages from people saying they are praying for their family and Rylie, adding many have said they are "in this for the long haul.""They aren't lying," Dee said. "They still text as much now as when I first found out, and I think that that is so important because it has been such a long journey for us. That's what's gotten us through."Almost doneThe last seven months have been long for the Heislers, but Rylie is nearing the finish line.Her last chemo treatment was Thursday, and she is scheduled to have surgery to remove her port June 21, a sign that her cancer is in remission."It doesn't feel like we are almost done," Rylie said. "It feels like we just started, but I'm super excited."There will be doctor appointments to follow, but most of what Rylie will face are the long-term side effects of chemo, including heart, kidney and hearing problems. Her knee also will finally have the chance to heal from the surgery that removed the tumor.Some medications Rylie may have to take for the rest of her life, and there is a chance the cancer could come back in her lungs.But Rylie said she and her family are ready for whatever comes next, adding she can't let herself be brought down by it.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"2595826","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"400","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"300"}}]] Rylie is looking forward to being a normal girl. She plans to go to Northland Community and Technical College in East Grand Forks to pursue a degree in nursing. For the summer, she said she is most looking forward to going to Devils Lake to camp and fish. She also will celebrate her graduation with an open house June 18.The family said they've been touched by how Rylie's story has affected others. The Children's Cancer Research Fund asked the family to help children with cancer. They've also given doctors at the hospital their name so families who have children can contact them for encouragement. Dee said her family wants to pay it forward by helping other children and bringing awareness to Rylie's story of survival - one filled with kindness and hope."We've had lots of people come in because they are as scared as we were," Dee said. "We can help ease that. It was kind of funny because when we were the newbies we had people helping us."Dee said her family can't express how thankful they are for everyone's support from medical staff, friends and the community, adding there will be some sad goodbyes when they don't have to go back to the hospital in Minneapolis."They saved our daughter's life," Dee said. "How do you thank somebody for that?"No one expected Rylie Heisler to walk across the stage to receive her diploma.It wasn't because she had failed any classes or didn't meet the standards required by the state of Minnesota to complete her high school education. The 18-year-old girl had pushed herself and did everything she could to finish her curriculum with no special treatment, even working from her bedside and handing in a paper one of her teachers said she could have bypassed.Rylie, a graduating senior of East Grand Forks High School, had finished school while battling bone cancer, meaning she had to do much of her homework for her senior year from a hospital room or home while recovering from chemo treatments.When it was time to take her high school diploma in hand during her graduation ceremony May 27 at the East Grand Forks Civic Recreation Center, she was supposed to be pushed across the graduation stage in a wheelchair.She told teachers she would not need it.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595820","attributes":{"alt":"Rylie Heisler receives a standing ovation as she crosses the stage at the East Grand Forks High School graduation. (Meg Oliphant","class":"media-image","height":"2082","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"2987"}}]] "I just wanted to walk with everyone else," she said. "I felt like I could do it, so I did."With the rest of her class, she stood up from her chair-donning her green cap and gown-and waited in line, listening for her name to be called."Rylie Heisler," Principal Brian Loer said before the crowd erupted in cheers and clapping."'Don't cry, Rylie. Just hold it in,'" she thought to herself as she carried her diploma. "But I started crying anyway. I didn't expect everyone to do that."Just for Rylie, the graduation ceremony halted as the audience stood in support for the girl who kept smiling through her battle for survival.She said there was no other option but to stay positive and fight instead of letting it bring her down."You can't," she said. "You just have to be happy. I've seen some kids be super sad and never leave their rooms and I don't want to be that way."The discoveryRylie's symptoms started with what appeared to be simple pain, she said."Her knee was hurting," her mother Dee Heisler said, adding Rylie complained for several months her knee hurt after coming home from work at Tufte Manor as a certified medical assistant. "We took her to the doctor several times and we were told it was just chronic knee pain."Rylie made several attempts to alleviate the pain, including physical therapy, but nothing seemed to help, Dee said.
On Oct. 16, a lump on top of her right leg that looked like a pulled muscle appeared. Doctors performed an ultrasound and X-ray.An hour after leaving the appointment, Dee received the call that would change her family's lives forever: A tumor was discovered in Rylie's right femur.The Heislers were hopeful the tumor was not cancerous, as doctors had told them there was a 2 percent chance that was the case.About two weeks and one biopsy later, Dee received a call at work and was told Rylie's tumor, which was large and very aggressive, was cancerous. The teenager would be rushed to the University of Minnesota Children's Masonic Hospital for surgery to remove the tumor. She also would go through 18 chemo treatments in six rounds."It was a very long drive home to have to tell your daughter that she has cancer," Dee said.'Plan B'When Dee arrived at her house, Rylie was on bedrest in her room. The tumor was eating away at her bone and it was brittle, Dee said.After her mother told her the news, Rylie asked to be alone for a few minutes."Then I went back to watching Netflix," Rylie said.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595824","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"375","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]]Dee said she was surprised at how well her daughter had taken the news. Dee said Rylie had thought she may have had cancer, but she was determined to stay positive."It was just something that happened," Rylie said.That positive attitude continued throughout the treatments. It was as if Rylie always had what Dee calls 'Plan B,' or a backup plan."When her hair fell out, she said, 'Oh, I'll save money on shampoo,'" Dee said. "Or someone said, 'These beds aren't the most comfortable,' and she would say, 'It could be worse.'"When she heard she couldn't go to prom, she said, 'That's OK. I'll just get chemo in my prom dress,'" she said, adding the hospital put on a prom for the girl. "She already had it all planned."'The long haul'Those who have cancer are often supported by the community. Some bring food while others put on fundraisers.But the Heislers never expected the help and support they received. A GoFundMe page titled "Rylie's 'Bad to the Bone' Journey" garnered $5,545 in donations. Classmates came together and raised $4,000 with a penny war, filling up multiple five-gallon jugs with change and cash. T-shirt sales, a benefit breakfast at Ground Round Bar and Grill, a baked potato feed held by her school and other fundraising efforts brought in more than $24,000 for medical costs."It's the most humbling experience we have ever had, but at the same time it is so enriching," Dee said. "It's overwhelming. It's just the most amazing thing."Monetary donations haven't been the only type of support the Heislers received. Neighbors offered to watch the house, their 16-year-old daughter, Hadyn, and the dog. Others brought care packages and food while work colleagues helped Rylie's parents keep up at work.Teachers also offered to travel to the Heislers' house, which is about 5 miles north of East Grand Forks, to tutor Rylie at home.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595825","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"332","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]]"We had offers from several teachers, not just one teacher in the fight," Dee said, adding the teacher would often tutor Rylie from the girl's bedside.The school asked how they could accommodate her through her treatments, though Rylie was determined to finish her senior year and graduate.Dee told the Herald in November a stranger who saw her and Rylie at Qdoba Mexican Grill, which is the girl's favorite restaurant, bought the senior's meal for her."You just want to pinch yourself," Dee said. "I always knew we had good neighbors and good jobs. This just proves we are in the right place."The Heislers, including Rylie, are usually the ones helping others. She has a passion for helping others, whether it is taking care of the elderly or using her tax return to buy gifts for others.Dee said she still receives cards and messages from people saying they are praying for their family and Rylie, adding many have said they are "in this for the long haul.""They aren't lying," Dee said. "They still text as much now as when I first found out, and I think that that is so important because it has been such a long journey for us. That's what's gotten us through."Almost doneThe last seven months have been long for the Heislers, but Rylie is nearing the finish line.Her last chemo treatment was Thursday, and she is scheduled to have surgery to remove her port June 21, a sign that her cancer is in remission."It doesn't feel like we are almost done," Rylie said. "It feels like we just started, but I'm super excited."There will be doctor appointments to follow, but most of what Rylie will face are the long-term side effects of chemo, including heart, kidney and hearing problems. Her knee also will finally have the chance to heal from the surgery that removed the tumor.Some medications Rylie may have to take for the rest of her life, and there is a chance the cancer could come back in her lungs.But Rylie said she and her family are ready for whatever comes next, adding she can't let herself be brought down by it.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"2595826","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"400","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"300"}}]] Rylie is looking forward to being a normal girl. She plans to go to Northland Community and Technical College in East Grand Forks to pursue a degree in nursing. For the summer, she said she is most looking forward to going to Devils Lake to camp and fish. She also will celebrate her graduation with an open house June 18.The family said they've been touched by how Rylie's story has affected others. The Children's Cancer Research Fund asked the family to help children with cancer. They've also given doctors at the hospital their name so families who have children can contact them for encouragement. Dee said her family wants to pay it forward by helping other children and bringing awareness to Rylie's story of survival - one filled with kindness and hope."We've had lots of people come in because they are as scared as we were," Dee said. "We can help ease that. It was kind of funny because when we were the newbies we had people helping us."Dee said her family can't express how thankful they are for everyone's support from medical staff, friends and the community, adding there will be some sad goodbyes when they don't have to go back to the hospital in Minneapolis."They saved our daughter's life," Dee said. "How do you thank somebody for that?"No one expected Rylie Heisler to walk across the stage to receive her diploma.It wasn't because she had failed any classes or didn't meet the standards required by the state of Minnesota to complete her high school education. The 18-year-old girl had pushed herself and did everything she could to finish her curriculum with no special treatment, even working from her bedside and handing in a paper one of her teachers said she could have bypassed.Rylie, a graduating senior of East Grand Forks High School, had finished school while battling bone cancer, meaning she had to do much of her homework for her senior year from a hospital room or home while recovering from chemo treatments.When it was time to take her high school diploma in hand during her graduation ceremony May 27 at the East Grand Forks Civic Recreation Center, she was supposed to be pushed across the graduation stage in a wheelchair.She told teachers she would not need it.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595820","attributes":{"alt":"Rylie Heisler receives a standing ovation as she crosses the stage at the East Grand Forks High School graduation. (Meg Oliphant","class":"media-image","height":"2082","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"2987"}}]] "I just wanted to walk with everyone else," she said. "I felt like I could do it, so I did."With the rest of her class, she stood up from her chair-donning her green cap and gown-and waited in line, listening for her name to be called."Rylie Heisler," Principal Brian Loer said before the crowd erupted in cheers and clapping."'Don't cry, Rylie. Just hold it in,'" she thought to herself as she carried her diploma. "But I started crying anyway. I didn't expect everyone to do that."Just for Rylie, the graduation ceremony halted as the audience stood in support for the girl who kept smiling through her battle for survival.She said there was no other option but to stay positive and fight instead of letting it bring her down."You can't," she said. "You just have to be happy. I've seen some kids be super sad and never leave their rooms and I don't want to be that way."The discoveryRylie's symptoms started with what appeared to be simple pain, she said."Her knee was hurting," her mother Dee Heisler said, adding Rylie complained for several months her knee hurt after coming home from work at Tufte Manor as a certified medical assistant. "We took her to the doctor several times and we were told it was just chronic knee pain."Rylie made several attempts to alleviate the pain, including physical therapy, but nothing seemed to help, Dee said.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595822","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"375","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]]On Oct. 16, a lump on top of her right leg that looked like a pulled muscle appeared. Doctors performed an ultrasound and X-ray.An hour after leaving the appointment, Dee received the call that would change her family's lives forever: A tumor was discovered in Rylie's right femur.The Heislers were hopeful the tumor was not cancerous, as doctors had told them there was a 2 percent chance that was the case.About two weeks and one biopsy later, Dee received a call at work and was told Rylie's tumor, which was large and very aggressive, was cancerous. The teenager would be rushed to the University of Minnesota Children's Masonic Hospital for surgery to remove the tumor. She also would go through 18 chemo treatments in six rounds."It was a very long drive home to have to tell your daughter that she has cancer," Dee said.'Plan B'When Dee arrived at her house, Rylie was on bedrest in her room. The tumor was eating away at her bone and it was brittle, Dee said.After her mother told her the news, Rylie asked to be alone for a few minutes."Then I went back to watching Netflix," Rylie said.
Dee said she was surprised at how well her daughter had taken the news. Dee said Rylie had thought she may have had cancer, but she was determined to stay positive."It was just something that happened," Rylie said.That positive attitude continued throughout the treatments. It was as if Rylie always had what Dee calls 'Plan B,' or a backup plan."When her hair fell out, she said, 'Oh, I'll save money on shampoo,'" Dee said. "Or someone said, 'These beds aren't the most comfortable,' and she would say, 'It could be worse.'"When she heard she couldn't go to prom, she said, 'That's OK. I'll just get chemo in my prom dress,'" she said, adding the hospital put on a prom for the girl. "She already had it all planned."'The long haul'Those who have cancer are often supported by the community. Some bring food while others put on fundraisers.But the Heislers never expected the help and support they received. A GoFundMe page titled "Rylie's 'Bad to the Bone' Journey" garnered $5,545 in donations. Classmates came together and raised $4,000 with a penny war, filling up multiple five-gallon jugs with change and cash. T-shirt sales, a benefit breakfast at Ground Round Bar and Grill, a baked potato feed held by her school and other fundraising efforts brought in more than $24,000 for medical costs."It's the most humbling experience we have ever had, but at the same time it is so enriching," Dee said. "It's overwhelming. It's just the most amazing thing."Monetary donations haven't been the only type of support the Heislers received. Neighbors offered to watch the house, their 16-year-old daughter, Hadyn, and the dog. Others brought care packages and food while work colleagues helped Rylie's parents keep up at work.Teachers also offered to travel to the Heislers' house, which is about 5 miles north of East Grand Forks, to tutor Rylie at home.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595825","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"332","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]]"We had offers from several teachers, not just one teacher in the fight," Dee said, adding the teacher would often tutor Rylie from the girl's bedside.The school asked how they could accommodate her through her treatments, though Rylie was determined to finish her senior year and graduate.Dee told the Herald in November a stranger who saw her and Rylie at Qdoba Mexican Grill, which is the girl's favorite restaurant, bought the senior's meal for her."You just want to pinch yourself," Dee said. "I always knew we had good neighbors and good jobs. This just proves we are in the right place."The Heislers, including Rylie, are usually the ones helping others. She has a passion for helping others, whether it is taking care of the elderly or using her tax return to buy gifts for others.Dee said she still receives cards and messages from people saying they are praying for their family and Rylie, adding many have said they are "in this for the long haul.""They aren't lying," Dee said. "They still text as much now as when I first found out, and I think that that is so important because it has been such a long journey for us. That's what's gotten us through."Almost doneThe last seven months have been long for the Heislers, but Rylie is nearing the finish line.Her last chemo treatment was Thursday, and she is scheduled to have surgery to remove her port June 21, a sign that her cancer is in remission."It doesn't feel like we are almost done," Rylie said. "It feels like we just started, but I'm super excited."There will be doctor appointments to follow, but most of what Rylie will face are the long-term side effects of chemo, including heart, kidney and hearing problems. Her knee also will finally have the chance to heal from the surgery that removed the tumor.Some medications Rylie may have to take for the rest of her life, and there is a chance the cancer could come back in her lungs.But Rylie said she and her family are ready for whatever comes next, adding she can't let herself be brought down by it.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"2595826","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"400","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"300"}}]] Rylie is looking forward to being a normal girl. She plans to go to Northland Community and Technical College in East Grand Forks to pursue a degree in nursing. For the summer, she said she is most looking forward to going to Devils Lake to camp and fish. She also will celebrate her graduation with an open house June 18.The family said they've been touched by how Rylie's story has affected others. The Children's Cancer Research Fund asked the family to help children with cancer. They've also given doctors at the hospital their name so families who have children can contact them for encouragement. Dee said her family wants to pay it forward by helping other children and bringing awareness to Rylie's story of survival - one filled with kindness and hope."We've had lots of people come in because they are as scared as we were," Dee said. "We can help ease that. It was kind of funny because when we were the newbies we had people helping us."Dee said her family can't express how thankful they are for everyone's support from medical staff, friends and the community, adding there will be some sad goodbyes when they don't have to go back to the hospital in Minneapolis."They saved our daughter's life," Dee said. "How do you thank somebody for that?"No one expected Rylie Heisler to walk across the stage to receive her diploma.It wasn't because she had failed any classes or didn't meet the standards required by the state of Minnesota to complete her high school education. The 18-year-old girl had pushed herself and did everything she could to finish her curriculum with no special treatment, even working from her bedside and handing in a paper one of her teachers said she could have bypassed.Rylie, a graduating senior of East Grand Forks High School, had finished school while battling bone cancer, meaning she had to do much of her homework for her senior year from a hospital room or home while recovering from chemo treatments.When it was time to take her high school diploma in hand during her graduation ceremony May 27 at the East Grand Forks Civic Recreation Center, she was supposed to be pushed across the graduation stage in a wheelchair.She told teachers she would not need it.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595820","attributes":{"alt":"Rylie Heisler receives a standing ovation as she crosses the stage at the East Grand Forks High School graduation. (Meg Oliphant","class":"media-image","height":"2082","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"2987"}}]] "I just wanted to walk with everyone else," she said. "I felt like I could do it, so I did."With the rest of her class, she stood up from her chair-donning her green cap and gown-and waited in line, listening for her name to be called."Rylie Heisler," Principal Brian Loer said before the crowd erupted in cheers and clapping."'Don't cry, Rylie. Just hold it in,'" she thought to herself as she carried her diploma. "But I started crying anyway. I didn't expect everyone to do that."Just for Rylie, the graduation ceremony halted as the audience stood in support for the girl who kept smiling through her battle for survival.She said there was no other option but to stay positive and fight instead of letting it bring her down."You can't," she said. "You just have to be happy. I've seen some kids be super sad and never leave their rooms and I don't want to be that way."The discoveryRylie's symptoms started with what appeared to be simple pain, she said."Her knee was hurting," her mother Dee Heisler said, adding Rylie complained for several months her knee hurt after coming home from work at Tufte Manor as a certified medical assistant. "We took her to the doctor several times and we were told it was just chronic knee pain."Rylie made several attempts to alleviate the pain, including physical therapy, but nothing seemed to help, Dee said.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595822","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"375","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]]On Oct. 16, a lump on top of her right leg that looked like a pulled muscle appeared. Doctors performed an ultrasound and X-ray.An hour after leaving the appointment, Dee received the call that would change her family's lives forever: A tumor was discovered in Rylie's right femur.The Heislers were hopeful the tumor was not cancerous, as doctors had told them there was a 2 percent chance that was the case.About two weeks and one biopsy later, Dee received a call at work and was told Rylie's tumor, which was large and very aggressive, was cancerous. The teenager would be rushed to the University of Minnesota Children's Masonic Hospital for surgery to remove the tumor. She also would go through 18 chemo treatments in six rounds."It was a very long drive home to have to tell your daughter that she has cancer," Dee said.'Plan B'When Dee arrived at her house, Rylie was on bedrest in her room. The tumor was eating away at her bone and it was brittle, Dee said.After her mother told her the news, Rylie asked to be alone for a few minutes."Then I went back to watching Netflix," Rylie said.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595824","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"375","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]]Dee said she was surprised at how well her daughter had taken the news. Dee said Rylie had thought she may have had cancer, but she was determined to stay positive."It was just something that happened," Rylie said.That positive attitude continued throughout the treatments. It was as if Rylie always had what Dee calls 'Plan B,' or a backup plan."When her hair fell out, she said, 'Oh, I'll save money on shampoo,'" Dee said. "Or someone said, 'These beds aren't the most comfortable,' and she would say, 'It could be worse.'"When she heard she couldn't go to prom, she said, 'That's OK. I'll just get chemo in my prom dress,'" she said, adding the hospital put on a prom for the girl. "She already had it all planned."'The long haul'Those who have cancer are often supported by the community. Some bring food while others put on fundraisers.But the Heislers never expected the help and support they received. A GoFundMe page titled "Rylie's 'Bad to the Bone' Journey" garnered $5,545 in donations. Classmates came together and raised $4,000 with a penny war, filling up multiple five-gallon jugs with change and cash. T-shirt sales, a benefit breakfast at Ground Round Bar and Grill, a baked potato feed held by her school and other fundraising efforts brought in more than $24,000 for medical costs."It's the most humbling experience we have ever had, but at the same time it is so enriching," Dee said. "It's overwhelming. It's just the most amazing thing."Monetary donations haven't been the only type of support the Heislers received. Neighbors offered to watch the house, their 16-year-old daughter, Hadyn, and the dog. Others brought care packages and food while work colleagues helped Rylie's parents keep up at work.Teachers also offered to travel to the Heislers' house, which is about 5 miles north of East Grand Forks, to tutor Rylie at home.
"We had offers from several teachers, not just one teacher in the fight," Dee said, adding the teacher would often tutor Rylie from the girl's bedside.The school asked how they could accommodate her through her treatments, though Rylie was determined to finish her senior year and graduate.Dee told the Herald in November a stranger who saw her and Rylie at Qdoba Mexican Grill, which is the girl's favorite restaurant, bought the senior's meal for her."You just want to pinch yourself," Dee said. "I always knew we had good neighbors and good jobs. This just proves we are in the right place."The Heislers, including Rylie, are usually the ones helping others. She has a passion for helping others, whether it is taking care of the elderly or using her tax return to buy gifts for others.Dee said she still receives cards and messages from people saying they are praying for their family and Rylie, adding many have said they are "in this for the long haul.""They aren't lying," Dee said. "They still text as much now as when I first found out, and I think that that is so important because it has been such a long journey for us. That's what's gotten us through."Almost doneThe last seven months have been long for the Heislers, but Rylie is nearing the finish line.Her last chemo treatment was Thursday, and she is scheduled to have surgery to remove her port June 21, a sign that her cancer is in remission."It doesn't feel like we are almost done," Rylie said. "It feels like we just started, but I'm super excited."There will be doctor appointments to follow, but most of what Rylie will face are the long-term side effects of chemo, including heart, kidney and hearing problems. Her knee also will finally have the chance to heal from the surgery that removed the tumor.Some medications Rylie may have to take for the rest of her life, and there is a chance the cancer could come back in her lungs.But Rylie said she and her family are ready for whatever comes next, adding she can't let herself be brought down by it.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"2595826","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"400","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"300"}}]] Rylie is looking forward to being a normal girl. She plans to go to Northland Community and Technical College in East Grand Forks to pursue a degree in nursing. For the summer, she said she is most looking forward to going to Devils Lake to camp and fish. She also will celebrate her graduation with an open house June 18.The family said they've been touched by how Rylie's story has affected others. The Children's Cancer Research Fund asked the family to help children with cancer. They've also given doctors at the hospital their name so families who have children can contact them for encouragement. Dee said her family wants to pay it forward by helping other children and bringing awareness to Rylie's story of survival - one filled with kindness and hope."We've had lots of people come in because they are as scared as we were," Dee said. "We can help ease that. It was kind of funny because when we were the newbies we had people helping us."Dee said her family can't express how thankful they are for everyone's support from medical staff, friends and the community, adding there will be some sad goodbyes when they don't have to go back to the hospital in Minneapolis."They saved our daughter's life," Dee said. "How do you thank somebody for that?"No one expected Rylie Heisler to walk across the stage to receive her diploma.It wasn't because she had failed any classes or didn't meet the standards required by the state of Minnesota to complete her high school education. The 18-year-old girl had pushed herself and did everything she could to finish her curriculum with no special treatment, even working from her bedside and handing in a paper one of her teachers said she could have bypassed.Rylie, a graduating senior of East Grand Forks High School, had finished school while battling bone cancer, meaning she had to do much of her homework for her senior year from a hospital room or home while recovering from chemo treatments.When it was time to take her high school diploma in hand during her graduation ceremony May 27 at the East Grand Forks Civic Recreation Center, she was supposed to be pushed across the graduation stage in a wheelchair.She told teachers she would not need it.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595820","attributes":{"alt":"Rylie Heisler receives a standing ovation as she crosses the stage at the East Grand Forks High School graduation. (Meg Oliphant","class":"media-image","height":"2082","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"2987"}}]] "I just wanted to walk with everyone else," she said. "I felt like I could do it, so I did."With the rest of her class, she stood up from her chair-donning her green cap and gown-and waited in line, listening for her name to be called."Rylie Heisler," Principal Brian Loer said before the crowd erupted in cheers and clapping."'Don't cry, Rylie. Just hold it in,'" she thought to herself as she carried her diploma. "But I started crying anyway. I didn't expect everyone to do that."Just for Rylie, the graduation ceremony halted as the audience stood in support for the girl who kept smiling through her battle for survival.She said there was no other option but to stay positive and fight instead of letting it bring her down."You can't," she said. "You just have to be happy. I've seen some kids be super sad and never leave their rooms and I don't want to be that way."The discoveryRylie's symptoms started with what appeared to be simple pain, she said."Her knee was hurting," her mother Dee Heisler said, adding Rylie complained for several months her knee hurt after coming home from work at Tufte Manor as a certified medical assistant. "We took her to the doctor several times and we were told it was just chronic knee pain."Rylie made several attempts to alleviate the pain, including physical therapy, but nothing seemed to help, Dee said.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595822","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"375","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]]On Oct. 16, a lump on top of her right leg that looked like a pulled muscle appeared. Doctors performed an ultrasound and X-ray.An hour after leaving the appointment, Dee received the call that would change her family's lives forever: A tumor was discovered in Rylie's right femur.The Heislers were hopeful the tumor was not cancerous, as doctors had told them there was a 2 percent chance that was the case.About two weeks and one biopsy later, Dee received a call at work and was told Rylie's tumor, which was large and very aggressive, was cancerous. The teenager would be rushed to the University of Minnesota Children's Masonic Hospital for surgery to remove the tumor. She also would go through 18 chemo treatments in six rounds."It was a very long drive home to have to tell your daughter that she has cancer," Dee said.'Plan B'When Dee arrived at her house, Rylie was on bedrest in her room. The tumor was eating away at her bone and it was brittle, Dee said.After her mother told her the news, Rylie asked to be alone for a few minutes."Then I went back to watching Netflix," Rylie said.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595824","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"375","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]]Dee said she was surprised at how well her daughter had taken the news. Dee said Rylie had thought she may have had cancer, but she was determined to stay positive."It was just something that happened," Rylie said.That positive attitude continued throughout the treatments. It was as if Rylie always had what Dee calls 'Plan B,' or a backup plan."When her hair fell out, she said, 'Oh, I'll save money on shampoo,'" Dee said. "Or someone said, 'These beds aren't the most comfortable,' and she would say, 'It could be worse.'"When she heard she couldn't go to prom, she said, 'That's OK. I'll just get chemo in my prom dress,'" she said, adding the hospital put on a prom for the girl. "She already had it all planned."'The long haul'Those who have cancer are often supported by the community. Some bring food while others put on fundraisers.But the Heislers never expected the help and support they received. A GoFundMe page titled "Rylie's 'Bad to the Bone' Journey" garnered $5,545 in donations. Classmates came together and raised $4,000 with a penny war, filling up multiple five-gallon jugs with change and cash. T-shirt sales, a benefit breakfast at Ground Round Bar and Grill, a baked potato feed held by her school and other fundraising efforts brought in more than $24,000 for medical costs."It's the most humbling experience we have ever had, but at the same time it is so enriching," Dee said. "It's overwhelming. It's just the most amazing thing."Monetary donations haven't been the only type of support the Heislers received. Neighbors offered to watch the house, their 16-year-old daughter, Hadyn, and the dog. Others brought care packages and food while work colleagues helped Rylie's parents keep up at work.Teachers also offered to travel to the Heislers' house, which is about 5 miles north of East Grand Forks, to tutor Rylie at home.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2595825","attributes":{"alt":"Photo contributed by Dee Heisler","class":"media-image","height":"332","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]]"We had offers from several teachers, not just one teacher in the fight," Dee said, adding the teacher would often tutor Rylie from the girl's bedside.The school asked how they could accommodate her through her treatments, though Rylie was determined to finish her senior year and graduate.Dee told the Herald in November a stranger who saw her and Rylie at Qdoba Mexican Grill, which is the girl's favorite restaurant, bought the senior's meal for her."You just want to pinch yourself," Dee said. "I always knew we had good neighbors and good jobs. This just proves we are in the right place."The Heislers, including Rylie, are usually the ones helping others. She has a passion for helping others, whether it is taking care of the elderly or using her tax return to buy gifts for others.Dee said she still receives cards and messages from people saying they are praying for their family and Rylie, adding many have said they are "in this for the long haul.""They aren't lying," Dee said. "They still text as much now as when I first found out, and I think that that is so important because it has been such a long journey for us. That's what's gotten us through."Almost doneThe last seven months have been long for the Heislers, but Rylie is nearing the finish line.Her last chemo treatment was Thursday, and she is scheduled to have surgery to remove her port June 21, a sign that her cancer is in remission."It doesn't feel like we are almost done," Rylie said. "It feels like we just started, but I'm super excited."There will be doctor appointments to follow, but most of what Rylie will face are the long-term side effects of chemo, including heart, kidney and hearing problems. Her knee also will finally have the chance to heal from the surgery that removed the tumor.Some medications Rylie may have to take for the rest of her life, and there is a chance the cancer could come back in her lungs.But Rylie said she and her family are ready for whatever comes next, adding she can't let herself be brought down by it.
 Rylie is looking forward to being a normal girl. She plans to go to Northland Community and Technical College in East Grand Forks to pursue a degree in nursing. For the summer, she said she is most looking forward to going to Devils Lake to camp and fish. She also will celebrate her graduation with an open house June 18.The family said they've been touched by how Rylie's story has affected others. The Children's Cancer Research Fund asked the family to help children with cancer. They've also given doctors at the hospital their name so families who have children can contact them for encouragement. Dee said her family wants to pay it forward by helping other children and bringing awareness to Rylie's story of survival - one filled with kindness and hope."We've had lots of people come in because they are as scared as we were," Dee said. "We can help ease that. It was kind of funny because when we were the newbies we had people helping us."Dee said her family can't express how thankful they are for everyone's support from medical staff, friends and the community, adding there will be some sad goodbyes when they don't have to go back to the hospital in Minneapolis."They saved our daughter's life," Dee said. "How do you thank somebody for that?"

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