CHRIS Grant was alone in his hospital room on Christmas Eve, watching Carols By Candleight, when the prognosis began to sink in.
Only days before he had been in Cambodia working with the Oaktree Foundation, of which he's an ambassador, before returning to Hughesdale and taking on his final year at Mount Waverley Secondary College.
He had been feeling off since his return and a biopsy revealed some of the worst possible news: leukaemia "I couldn't comprehend it," he said.
His family was in shock. The young man who had dreamed of becoming a lawyer had always been fit and healthy.
As the cancer was so aggressive, the doctors started treatment immediately. He was able to get a few hours away from the hospital on Christmas Day but the next few months would be a blur.
He would spend weeks at a time in hospital getting intensive chemotherapy. Some of his friends couldn't speak when he told them; others cried.
During treatment, he found out who his true friends were. The ones that mattered were often seen in his hospital room even during the best days of summer, chewing the fat.
Chris said his family was a huge source of comfort. "I personally don't think I would have gotten through it the way I have if I didn't receive all that support," he said.
He singled out his father, Michael Mones. "He's just been my rock. He came in literally every single day I've been in hospital. He's helped me through everything. He's been that carer for me, that protector of me."
While Chris's outlook on life changed — little things like missing the bus now barely caused a flicker of emotion — his high school certificate still remained a priority.
"I had something to prove to myself and others that if you're facing adversity, you can still get through what needs to be done. It probably made me a bit more determined to finish year 12."
When school started again, the 19-year-old would spend three weeks in the classroom before taking a week off to be in hospital.
When he was away, he was in regular contact with his teachers and had a scribe in the classroom taking notes.
Chris's first exam will be maths this Friday and while he is slightly stressed, as are all students, he said things were going well. His hospital visits are down to once or twice a month now and his doctors are optimistic.
"Coming up to exams, it gives me heaps more time to be studying and be worrying about the normal teenage things. I couldn't have asked for better timing, really."