Gilbert woman with rare genetic brain condition prepares to graduate college

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Carissa Galvez has a genetic brain condition but this Friday she'll be graduating college with her nursing degree. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Carissa Galvez has a genetic brain condition but this Friday she'll be graduating college with her nursing degree. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
When we first met Galvez, she laid in a hospital bed, wracked with pain. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) When we first met Galvez, she laid in a hospital bed, wracked with pain. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Fast forward five years and a dozen surgeries later, Galvez is doing well. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Fast forward five years and a dozen surgeries later, Galvez is doing well. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
She's now just three days away from graduating from Arizona College of Nursing, her dream since she was 10 years old. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) She's now just three days away from graduating from Arizona College of Nursing, her dream since she was 10 years old. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
her mother plans to be in the front row for the ceremony. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) her mother plans to be in the front row for the ceremony. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
GILBERT, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A Gilbert woman whose life has been spent in and out of hospitals is about to reach a major life milestone.

Carissa Galvez has a genetic brain condition so rare, doctors don't even have a name for it. Her mother was told she wouldn't live to graduate high school. But this Friday she'll be graduating college with her nursing degree.

It’s an update to a story we shared nearly five years ago. When we first met Galvez, she lay in a hospital bed, wracked with pain.

[ORIGINAL STORY: Brain surgery goes bad, now no doctor can help woman (Oct. 4, 2012)]

An experimental shunt put in years before to help her brain fluid drain was failing, causing extreme headaches.

Her case so complex, no doctors would take her.

After Arizona’s Family shared her story, doctors at Banner University Medical Center in Tucson offered to help.

A couple months later, that shunt failed too. Galvez was rushed back to the hospital where doctors worked desperately to repair it.

That’s where we left Galvez.

Fast forward five years and a dozen surgeries later, Galvez is doing well.

“Exhausted from school but health-wise I’m good. I’m OK, take it day by day,” she said.

She's now just three days away from graduating from Arizona College of Nursing, her dream since she was 10 years old.

“It's taken more than I thought I had in me to be honest. I always said, 'Oh, I’m going to be a nurse' but I never actually thought it could be a thing,” said Galvez.

By her side since the beginning, her mother plans to be in the front row for the ceremony.

“I can't believe it's happening, that she's doing it. And it's not that I didn't think that she could, I just didn't know if her body was going to let her,” said Daniella Terry, Galvez's mother. “So to see her walk across that stage, I’m going to cry."

Galvez still needs to pass her test to get her nursing license, but say she's already had a few job offers.

"Dude I did it. I did it. So yeah, that's kind of exciting,” said Galvez. 

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Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

Click to learn more about Lauren.

Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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