WATCH: When 61-year-old Peter Rey was told he had terminal cancer, he knew his one wish was to graduate from high school. April Lawrence reports.
Peter Rey learned one year ago he has an inoperable brain tumour and likely only a year or two left to live.
“He said sorry to give you the bad news, but what you have is incurable,” Rey said, describing his conversation with his doctor.
The 61-year-old Saanich man said he took it better than Pamela, his wife of 18 years.
“I cannot describe the look on her face, the epitome of crestfallen, our lives changed forever then.”
Rey is now on 17 medications. He gets dizzy and has trouble with short-term memory, but his strength and optimism are still very much intact.
“No matter what bad news thing is out there, I always pick the optimistic outcome,” Rey said.
Instead of looking toward death, Rey is looking at life, and what he can still accomplish.
A high school drop out, he knew number one would be getting his Grade 12 diploma.
“Lifelong ambition, as soon as you said that I felt a tug on my heart because it’s something that’s been important to me, something I always wanted,” Rey said.
He wrote a letter to the Ministry of Education and then met with staff at SJ Willis Education Centre.
“[He] told us that he didn’t have very long to live and this had always been a dream of his to get his high school diploma, so we were able to help him out with that,” Leah Moreau, vice principal of SJ Willis said.
Thanks to his life experiences, and a 40-year career in sales and business, he received credit for five courses, and weeks later his Dogwood Diploma showed up in his mailbox.
Rather than frame it, he gave it to the one person it matters to even more to ? his 86-year old mother.
But Rey’s true dream happened on stage Wednesday night, when he put on a cap and gown and crossed the stage with his fellow high school graduates.
“It’s never too late to get your grade 12, a lot of people have given up,” he said.
“Anything in life you want to do you can.”
At peace with his prognosis, and finding comfort in his faith, Peter says he’s ready to go any day, but hopefully not before he accomplishes his next life long dream ? skydiving.
Photos courtesy of Mary Jane Howland Photography