North Carolina mom beats cancer, graduates nursing school alongside daughter

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WTVD) -- A cancer survivor is graduating with her daughter; side-by-side both are accepting their master's degrees in nursing.

Shonicia Jones earned her nursing degree years ago. When she graduated from college, she was the first in her family to have done so.

"I was finished, and then of course my daughter came along and she became a nurse," Jones told ABC affiliate WSOC.

Her daughter, Beniecia Barnett, wanted to go back to school and get her master's degree. But she didn't want to do it alone.

"Even though she felt like she was done with all of her education, I said come on mom, let's do it, because I just knew that she could do it," Barnett said.

For the last two years, mother and daughter worked together to earn their master's degrees.

But in 2019, the path for Jones took an unexpected turn.

She felt a lump while doing a self breast exam. Soon she was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer.

Jones underwent major surgery to remove both her breasts. Through it all she stayed in school, working to earn her degree.

"I had to start the whole chemo journey. Lose my hair, all of that. I would be at chemo doing a discussion board and things like that. Just fighting through it and just determined that was going to be my light at the end of this cancer journey," Jones said.

This week, Jones returned to work. She must continue to undergo cancer treatments for the rest of the year.

But she finished her masters program in Nursing Administration. Likewise, her daughter finished her masters program for Nursing Education.

The pair will now graduate together.

"There's so much temptation, I could've quit at any stage. But for me, I just tell anybody whenever they ask me, you would be amazed at what you could do if you just don't quit," Jones said.
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