Teen Died of Cancer Just 1 Month After School Honored Him with Special Graduation Ceremony

"Now his suffering is over and his kind, sweet soul is all around us,” the family of Brian Ortiz, 17, said in a GoFundMe

<p>Alondra Ortiz/GoFundMe</p> Brian Ortiz (C)

Alondra Ortiz/GoFundMe

Brian Ortiz (C)

A 17-year-old California student with cancer whose high school held a special graduation ceremony for him last month has died.

Brian Ortiz was battling liver cancer when he passed away on Wednesday, May 15, his family announced, as reported by Fox affiliate KPMH and ABC affiliate KFSN.

In a GoFundMe to pay for the teen’s funeral expenses, Brian’s family wrote: “For the past few months, Brian had received news that his cancer was no longer responding to treatment and that his cancer was terminal. After months of brutal treatment, hospital stays, pain, and bad news after bad news he never complained. The type of cancer he had was aggressive and progressed quickly.”

In April, his school, Gustine High School, hosted an early graduation ceremony so that Brian could experience the milestone event, KFSN reported. He was given a police escort to take him from his home to the school, where he was later cheered on by students and teachers.

"It means a lot to me," Brian said at the time. "I was going through a lot...I was able to get this day thanks to Gustine High School."

Related: Teen Who Died of Cancer Will Be Honored at Graduation After Backlash Over District Policy

“He fought so hard to make every minute and moment count as well as making it his own graduation last month [in] April,” continued the description on GoFundMe, which has so far raised over $10,000 as of May 17. “He was such a loving and sweet soul to everyone around him.”

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The family said that Brian was diagnosed with stage 4 fibrolamellar carcinoma last September. According to the National Cancer Institute, fibrolamellar carcinoma is a rare liver cancer that affects teens and adults under 40 years old. It says that the cancer is unique because it occurs in those with healthy livers and is believed to affect 1 in 5 million people in the U.S.

Related: Her Goal Was to Graduate Middle School Before Cancer Took Her. Now Her Memory Helps Other 8th Graders

"I remember when he had an accident they took it into the hospital and that's when they kind of figure out like that he had cancer,” Brian’s sister Alondra said before his death, per KFSN.

“Our hearts and spirits are heavy after several traumatic months in the hospital. Now his suffering is over and his kind, sweet soul is all around us,” his family continued in the GoFundMe.

Related: Teen Reflects on Day His Wish to Become 'Batkid' Came True 10 Years Ago — and Says He’s Still Cancer-Free

PEOPLE reached out to Gustine High School for comment. 

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