18-year-old beats brain cancer, walks at high school graduation

“I’m just amazed that I’m actually still here.” says 18-year-old Townes Hobratschk.

Three years ago then 15-year-old Hobratschk was diagnosed with stage IV medulloblastoma.

“In the blink of an eye I was a healthy teenage boy and then there I am, I can barely see… rolling around in a wheelchair, just disheartening,” Hobratschk says. 

After an 18 month battle Hobratschk was declared cancer free on July 4. It’s a date he finds fitting since he’s worked to gain independence in other ways. His battle left him with difficulties walking, talking and even seeing.

“We were told eventually things would get better, but there’s no real timeline with brain repair or recovery.” said Hobratschk’s mother, Trish Torpey.

Throughout his journey Hobratschk has used a wheelchair, a walker, and now an electrical-stimulation rehabilitation device.

“It’s so hard to have [walking] taken from you … just the amount of things that you can’t do when you can’t like walk is like kind of demeaning.” Hobratschk says.

Each day, Hobratschk focuses on moving forward. Wednesday, he took what may be some of his biggest steps yet as he walked across the stage at the Frank Erwin Center, for McCallum High School’s graduation.

“It’s what I prayed for, I’m sorry.” cried Torpey. “Whenever he got out of surgery he lost all of his abilities to function, like as a parent, you just look at that and it’s very scary… and here we are he’s gonna walk accross the stage, and he’s gonna receive his diploma."

Torpey said it is just “very, very much a blessing.”

Hobratschk says after cancer he no longer thinks of things “long term,” but rather focuses on “living in the moment.” So, he hasn’t put much thought into graduation. Though, he does consider it a milestone.

“I was there on death's doorstep. That’s pretty much rock bottom right there, and life just keeps getting better and better now,” Hobratschk says. 

Now, Hobratschk wants to dedicate his life to ensuring things get better for others. He is going to Texas A&M University Galveston to pursue a degree in biomedical engineering, so he can develop new technologies, like the ones that have helped him.

“I just dream of the day where he’s the next biomedical engineer, or he’s building a house, or whatever he’s doing I’m just thankful for him being here and being able to live a long life,” Hobratschk says.

Hobratschk graduated on-time and as a member of the National Honor Society.