"I don't know how he juggled everything because we found out probably about three weeks before his graduation that I had cancer and I also needed to have an operation," Holly Hitchcock said Tuesday from her hospital room.
Holly Hitchcock and her son, Adam Hitchcock, are very close.
Holly wanted to put off the surgery so she could be at his graduation from Husson University.
Adam wouldn't let her.
"I kept pushing to do it before. It didn't matter to me. I'd rather have her here for other things like a wedding and stuff. She wanted to wait but I just wanted her to get it done," he said.
Holly gave in and had her surgery last Friday, the night before graduation.
Adam did walk across the stage and that could have been the end but it wasn't.
While at Husson, Adam was captain of the university's cross country team. A friend on the team came up with an idea to make sure Holly didn't miss seeing Adam receive his degree. She worked with his aunt, the staff at Husson and Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center on a plan to make it happen.
"My sister came in and she said she had a surprise on Sunday but she didn't say what it was. Then they all came in and did the ceremony for me and then thanked us for letting them do it," the mother said.
The professors and staff recreated the ceremony and gave Adam his degree in secondary education there in his mother's hospital room on Mother's Day.
"Graduation is such a memorable experience and you want to be able to share with your family and so for us to be able to go and make that happen when mom couldn't be there was great," said Shelly Tennett, an assistant professor at Husson's School of Education.
Education Professor Sandip Wilson agreed.
"It was humbling going to the hospital. It was an honor to be with the family," she said.
Holly said she was deeply moved by the gesture.
"I could never repay everybody that's helped me and my family but except to say thank you and how grateful I am and how much I appreciate everything," she said. "It's the best Mother's Day gift of all."