Leukemia survivor Xanthe Lee Nitschke, pictured with her Jack Russell Terrier Luna, has graduated from Grade 12 at Peace Lutheran College, and will now study to become a veterinary nurse. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Leukemia survivor Xanthe Lee Nitschke, pictured with her Jack Russell Terrier Luna, has graduated from Grade 12 at Peace Lutheran College, and will now study to become a veterinary nurse. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

Cancer survivor ready to live dream after high school

THERE were times when Joanne Nitschke thought she would never see the day when her daughter Xanthe graduated from high school.

As she battled for two-and-a-half years with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia after being diagnosed as an 11-year-old she wondered if she'd even reach her next birthday.

But last week the now 17-year-old stood proudly beside her Peace Lutheran College classmates with big plans for the future, following through on a dream she has long held to become a vet nurse.

Xanthe Lee Nitschke. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Xanthe Lee Nitschke. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

"I've been doing work experience at the Cairns Emergency Vets and they already want me to start now," she said.

While sick, Xanthe met Dr Chris Brown from Bondi Vet as part of the Make A Wish program and he gave her an engraved stethoscope which she still uses.

Such is her love for animals her date to the school formal was her friend's dog Zara.

She was escorted into the event by two people who co-ordinated fundraising for the family when she was first diagnosed.

The community rallied behind her during her illness with classmates shaving their heads and care packages sent to her in Brisbane weekly.

"There are so many people who have supported her over the years so it was nice to be able to share her success with them," Joanne said.


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