Unemployment, homelessness, and cancer were but bumps in the road for this strong mother-and-son team, Patricia Love Davis and Kenneth McCray II. Resilience became innately imperative as the two battled many obstacles since the early death of McCray’s father. He was just six when he lost his dad to an aneurysm and eleven when he learned of his mother’s lymphoma diagnosis.
Lymphoma, as described by WedMD, is a type of cancer that targets the cells in our bodies that fight infections in the immune system, which are called lymphocytes. The spleen, bone marrow, and lymph nodes are just a few of the places this cancer can come from. Though it is generally quite treatable, Davis had the misfortune of facing a rare form of the disease, which required intensive chemotherapy.
She fell into a four-day-long coma following her third round of treatment and had to relearn to walk and talk after losing physical mobility, according to Broward College. Any hopes she had for attending college and her job at the time, had to be put on hold while she pushed through the illness, she told ABC News.
Having lost her income, the pair found themselves on the streets. “We hit hard times [and] I had to be the man of the house,” McCray informed ABC News affiliate WPLG-TV. “I ended up working.” He was forced to quit college for two years as they constantly bounced around, finding refuge in the homes of different family members and close friends. “He started working and paying all the bills and even giving Mommy an allowance,” she said.
McCray finally returned to his studies at South Florida’s Broward College, where he specialized in computer science, but often found it difficult to handle the work. “There were times I wanted to break down,” he explained, “so I had to hide in the bathroom a little bit without making a sound so my mom wouldn’t see me. … It was pretty hard but I always look for something, I always look for a positive along the way.”
Physical and mental strength alike brought them both success, no doubt. In 2014, Davis enrolled in a criminal justice program at the same school as her son. “I still wanted to get that education and get that experience, which for me was awesome, and I had the most awesome professors who made it so much fun to get to learn as I went along,” she recounted to ABC News. They even attended the same math class and Davis admitted jokingly that she got a better grade.
This May, at fifty-one and twenty-five years old, the duo graduated from Broward College together with pride. For both of them, this day was long-awaited and well-deserved. “We’re looking forward to our new journey, starting this summer, and look forward to things getting better than they are right now,” she confessed to ABC News. “To be able to not only graduate and get my degree but to get it with my son and to walk across the stage with my son, it’s a dream come true. … It’s nothing that we dreamed on a normal basis but it was a dream come true for me.”
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