I recently finished Death Be Not Proud, the story of John Gunther Jr., who died at age 17 from brain cancer. His father took notes during his son's medical treatment and wrote this memoir. The book gushes about Johnny a bit, but he was a good student and the memoir is written by a proud and sad parent.
The thing that struck me was how Johnny just wanted to keep up with his schoolwork, and try to be as normal as possible, despite a slight loss of coordination on the left side of his body. He earned his high school diploma, while spending his time in hospitals seeing specialists and undergoing all available treatment. It reminded me of something I read about terminally ill patients - the stereotype of somebody finding out they have an uncurable disease is that they rush off and do things like travel the world or climb mountains. But in reality, they nearly always just want do to absolutely regular things: garden, cook, walk, read books, etc. They fight to cling to everyday life.
Now I need to finsh up Life of Pi - I borrowed this from a coworker months ago and have only read 1/3 of it. Plus, a shelf of over a dozen other books to read - I'm behind!