LOMA LINDA (CBSLA.com) — A teenager who suffered a severe brain trauma just two weeks before her graduation was able to have her very own ceremony with her classmates at Loma Linda University Medical Center.
With cheers of encouragement and tears of joy, 19-year-old Madison Perea graduated from Oak Hills High School.
“She looked so beautiful. I’m just glad she got to graduate,” cheerleader Amber Johnson said.
“I’m very thankful for her to still be here and to see her happy,” cheerleader Ireland Maloney said.
A few weeks ago, Perea, a star cheerleader, beauty queen and student, woke up with a splitting headache.
Her stepmother, Dr. Samantha Perea, a physician at Loma Linda University Medical Center, quickly realized something more serious was going on and rushed her to the hospital.
“Right when we got to the parking lot, her speech just started… she was mumbling the same word over and over,” Samantha Perea said.
Soon after, Perea was unresponsive. The teenager had a brain bleed.
Dr. Samantha Perea said her stepdaughter’s particular condition, arteriovenous malformation, is extremely rare.
Perea had to have brain surgery to stop the bleeding.
“We’ve been best friends and she didn’t deserve that,” father Ernie Perea said.
While Perea missed her high school graduation, she received her diploma with her family, friends and her school principal by her side.
“She needs to battle like a bulldog, like an Oak Hills bulldog,” Principal Larry Porras said.
Ernie Perea said he’s just happy his daughter is alive and recovering so fast.
“She has the will to fight, and I’m going to push her to fight,” he said.
CBS2’s Adrianna Weingold reports Perea still has a long road to recovery ahead of her, but her father said she still wants to be a professional cheerleader.