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Stephanie Northcott had just one dream: to see her teenage son graduate from high school this year. Battling a rare terminal cancer, she was hospitalized almost 400 miles away from home in Tennessee, facing the possibility of missing this milestone.
But thanks to some amazing school staff members, family and dedicated friends, she was able to see her dream come true.
In a heartwarming gesture to fulfill his mom’s dying wish, Northcott's son, Dalton, arranged to receive his diploma several weeks before his high school’s official graduation. On May 4, Northcott’s hospital bed was wheeled into the chapel of Baptist Memorial Hospital East in Memphis, Tennessee, for a very special ceremony.
“She had no idea what was going on,” Julie Northcott, a dear friend of Stephanie who is now married to her former husband, told TODAY. “She thought they were moving her down because there were more people there than could fit in her room.”
Julie captured the momentous event on video, sharing the tender moments on her Facebook. Once Stephanie arrived in the chapel, a crowd of students — some in football jerseys and some in caps and gowns — began filing in as the traditional graduation march song, “Pomp and Circumstance,” played.
“We never expected it to be that many people,” Julie said of his classmates.
Dalton then helped his mom to her feet to dance to “I Won’t Let Go” by Rascal Flatts as tearful friends and family looked on.
“She was looking forward to that (graduation) for the past two years,” Northcott explained. “Her fear was that she wasn’t going to make it to his graduation and that’s all she wanted."
But Stephanie was determined: "She is very bullheaded. She is one of the most bullheaded women I have ever met in my life.”
Stephanie, who lost her daughter, Amber, to the same cancer in 2012, passed away Friday morning, a week after the ceremony at the hospital.
“I’m glad she’s not suffering anymore,” Julie told TODAY. “We’re going to miss her. Anyone that knows her knows she had such a big heart and she loved her kids."
Stephanie’s family has set up a fund in her name that will contribute to her funeral expenses.