For 58-year-old Will Rogers, a college degree was just a dream for most of his life. But Sunday, that dream, will become reality. "It feels good. And it feels good to be here at this stage," Will says.
Will and his wife Pat live in Paradise. They've been married 15 years; both their third marriage. Pat, a former nurse, and Will a business guru, lost his job a few years ago. He decided to go back to school to further his business knowledge in hopes that a class or two may fine tune his skills, so he could return to work. But he ended up falling in love with school. And this weekend he will be the first in his family to graduate with a college degree. Pat says, "I am just so proud. 34 I'm very proud." Will says, "It gives each day a definite purpose."
But it hasn't been an easy journey for Will. On top of being a husband, father, and student, Will was diagnosed last spring with non-small cell lung cancer. His cancer is terminal. Pat says, It's difficult at times. It's difficult because I don't want to be a widow at 54."
And it was shocking news for a man who's been a long distance runner most of his life and has never smoked a cigarette. "It has changes me in many ways. Just as college has changed me. You grow. We have our identity, but our identity changes all the time," says Will.
Rogers says 98% of people diagnosed with his type of lung cancer don't survive. He is hopeful that the experimental chemotherapy treatment he's been on for nearly a year, will change his future. But for now, he lives each day at a time with a positive attitude and sense of humor. And hasn't let cancer interfere with achieving his goal of being a college graduate. "I'm not sure what's next. Try to make a difference in my life, try to make a difference in other people's lives, the best way I can," he says.
Rogers will be walking across the stage Sunday, where he will receive his Bachelor Degree in English.