Nineteen-year-old Bret Laczynski is in the final stages of brain cancer. Friday, his school had an early graduation just for him.
"It's hard. He's been my brother, my best friend growing up. It's hard to hear the news that we got," said Bailey Laczynski, one of Bret's younger brothers.
Friday's celebration at the Special Education Learning Facility in Valparaiso, Indiana, where the 19-year-old attends school comes about four months ahead of schedule and after it became clear his fight against cancer would soon end.
"He defied all odds, and here we are like 9 and a half years later only to go through the whole heartache again," said Lisa Hood, Bret's mother
It was nearly a decade ago when the straight-A student who loved watching the Cubs was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer.
"To watch a child go through what he's gone through--such strength, positivity. I mean, he's honestly made things easier on us," said Jeff Hood, Bret's stepfather.
Since then, Bret has developed other health issues, and he doesn't talk much, except to say "Love you."
"What Bret stands for is love. Plain and simply," said Cindy Wyman, Bret's stepmother.
For the last decade, Bret appeared to beat the disease, only to be diagnosed last month with another form of cancer. This time, surgery and chemotherapy aren't options.
"I really believe he's a miracle," said Craig LaRusso, Bret's nurse.
And so do those who love Bret as they brace for what lies ahead.
"We take it day by day," said Todd Laczynski, Bret's father. "We love him day by day. He loves us day by day, and it's going to be hard when that day does come."