Arizona teen shares dying wish to become an architect - Tucson News Now

Arizona teen shares dying wish to become an architect

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Prestin Etienne, 15, is a fighter and is not letting a six-month diagnosis get him down (Source: CBS 5 News) Prestin Etienne, 15, is a fighter and is not letting a six-month diagnosis get him down (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Doctors delivered a shocking diagnosis for a Valley high school freshman. He has less than six months to live and he's only 15.

Since getting the news, he's making plans for vacations, family visits and has dropped all of his high school classes except for one that's inspiring him to continue showing up at school every day.

Prestin Etienne has big ideas and even bigger dreams. He wants to design the place you live in.

"Mostly do work like floor plans, elevations. If you want, even build a house into the side of a hill," Prestin Etienne said.

"He's talking about school next year and doing this as a career," Barb Etienne said.

"He's an inspiration to the entire class," teacher Scott Thomas said.

Prestin Etienne is a freshman among a class full of juniors and seniors. He's enrolled in the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Architecture class at Shadow Ridge High School in Surprise.

It's a program designed to set you up for a professional career.

"I just like the idea of building houses and making plans for people maybe in the future," Prestin Etienne said.

The cancer that led to his amputation of his leg last year has spread to his lungs. In February, he pulled out of his other classes.

"Right now, we can only enjoy the time that we have," Stan Etienne said.

His parents, Stan and Barb Etienne are actually his great aunt and uncle. They've taken care of him since he was 7 when his mom died of breast cancer. His family suffers from an extremely rare genetic defect that greatly increases the risk of cancer. It's so rare that it only affects 500 families in the world.

"I pray the doctors are wrong and that this is all going to be good," Barb Etienne said.

"I don't really believe them. I think if I keep doing what I'm doing now, I'll live a lot longer than they say," Prestin Etienne said.

"Every day I think about it, because how I put things to him weighs on my heart," Thomas said.

Thomas has more than a hundred students in his architecture program, with all of them focused on the next step.

"As a teacher, we're always talking about the future and what you need to do to be successful in life," Thomas said.

"I don't think about it actually, I just go around living my life like nothing's changed," Prestin Etienne said.

"He's just handled it with grace and dignity," Stan Etienne said.

"(He's) inspiring other students to do better even if they don't have any challenges at all," Thomas said.

Prestin's courage and creativity has set the bar high for his classmates and his story is sure to inspire others for years to come.

Later this month, Prestin Etienne and his family, with the help of Make-a-Wish foundation are heading to Hawaii for a week-long vacation.

His family has a website and Facebook page with updates and pictures of Prestin Etienne.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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