Student overcomes tumor diagnosis, earns pharmacy degree

DAVIE, FLA. (WSVN) - A woman who overcame a devastating diagnosis made it to the day she’s been dreaming of: the day she earns a pharmacy degree.

Crislus Paulino and her husband Elliot Anico have a lot to celebrate. Paulino is graduating with a Doctor in Pharmacy from Nova Southeastern University is reason enough, but the fact that she beat a brain tumor to get to this day makes it that much more special. “You have to think to yourself, ‘Well, it’s sink or swim.’ If you don’t swim, you’re gonna sink,” Anico said. “We don’t wanna sink.”

Paulino started at NSU in fall 2011, but a year later, she began having bad headaches. Doctors found a tumor behind her left eye. “I really thought I was gonna die,” Paulino said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, am I really gonna be able to do all my plans? Everything that I had planned out?”

She underwent brain surgery, and in the process, Paulino missed a year of school. It was a long road to recovery. “Sometimes I would talk and I thought I was making sense, but I wasn’t making any sense,” she said.

“She’d be talking and she’ll say, ‘Well, you know because of this [inaudible].’ It was gibberish,” Anico said.

Paulino was determined to get back on her feet, but she had some help along the way. She was inspired by her professors, like Dr. Jaime Riskin, who also survived a brain tumor. “We have a scar in the same place, and her hair had grown back a lot more than mine, and I always think of her when I do my hair,” Riskin said. “I’m like, ‘Oh, it’s growing back like Crislus.'”

Now the patient is about to be the doctor, and she told 7News that she believes God put her through this trial to prepare her to help others. “I’m like, ‘Oh, God, thank you so much for allowing me to be here and for making everything easy,'” Paulino said, tearing up. “‘You gave me the right doctors, the right family to help me go through this, the right friends.'”

She said she hopes to pursue a career with Publix once she graduates. She said she cannot wait to start making a difference in people’s lives.

Copyright 2017 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.