Kansas grandma, cancer survivor goes back to school to fulfill promise

TOPEKA (KSNT) – In the small town of Clay Center, Kansas is a grandma, who is battling cancer and homework all at the same time. She does it all just to fulfill a promise before she dies.

It started out as a bad cough five years ago. The x-rays revealed a spot: Stage 4 lung cancer.

“They did a biopsy immediately and, by that Thursday, they took my right lung,” said Judy Renton, cancer survivor.

Given what could have been a life sentence, Renton decided she had two options: “I just thought, ‘Should I give up or do I keep going?’” Renton said. “And that promise to my grandkids… I had to keep going,”

That promise? To get her high school diploma before she passes away. A promise she made after realizing she couldn’t help her grandchildren with their homework.

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“I didn’t know how to help them, I couldn’t help them,” Renton said. “Their algebra that they’re doing today, I had not a clue.”

Renton made it to her junior year of high school, but had to drop out because she was pregnant with her first child. She went back to school countless times, but nothing stuck.

“Because, me in my own mind, I kept thinking, ‘Boy, I’m stupid,’” she said.

Realizing her cancer diagnosis could leave her with little time, she went online and found her guardian angels, The Insight School of Kansas Adult School Learner program.

“Everything is done online,” Leatha Hall, Judy’s school counselor said. “Classes are live so they open their computer, they login, they see a live class session.”

She started taking her online classes, while at the same time getting chemotherapy at the Topeka Cancer Center. “I could spend those six hours in chemo to do my homework and even go to class,” Renton said.

Two years into the program and with her cancer now in remission, she’s set to graduate in June of 2016 at the age of 53.

“I can brag now, I can brag now, because I’m not stupid no more,” Renton said.

She’s living proof there’s no excuses and no age limit on learning.

When Renton does graduate she plans on going back to school again, this time to vocational-technical school to study computers.