COBB COUNTY, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Stephen Hood, 18, is part of the Kell High School Senior Class of 2020.
The athlete earned a full college football scholarship and plans to attend Mars Hill University in North Carolina this fall.READ MORE: Georgia's anti-abortion advocates celebrate Dobbs ruling overturning Roe V. Wade
“I’m really excited, because I’m going to college, and I don’t have to pay anything,” he said.
As his family quarantines at their home during the COVID-19 pandemic, his mother, Dawn Hood, recalls a doctor’s phone call and how she and Stephen almost didn’t make it to see his milestone.
“He called and said, ‘Mrs. Hood, I’m so sorry. You have breast cancer. You need to call your surgeon immediately. Have a nice day,’” she said.
Dawn was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer while she was pregnant with Stephen. She was told they might not survive.
“I wanted to wait until Stephen was born to start treatment, and they said, ‘Absolutely not, and if you wait to have treatment, you won’t be here, and we don’t know what the consequences will be if you do have treatment,’” she recalled.
“I didn’t really realize how big of a deal it was until I was probably 10 or 11, so when I learned, it was like a big shock to me,” said Stephen.
It all happened when her husband, Richard Hood, was unemployed and looking after their two other kids.
She decided to proceed with the treatment and the pregnancy at Northside Hospital, then, against all odds, Stephen was born.READ MORE: Ukraine To Withdraw From Severodonetsk As Russia's Advance Grinds On
“He was born at 4:02 on a Tuesday afternoon,” said Dawn.
She gave birth to a healthy five pound, 11 ounce baby boy, then she continued her treatments and beat the cancer.
Richard said their faith was always the light at the end of the tunnel, and one that shines brightly on his wife and their graduating senior.
“God had this whole thing orchestrated,” said Richard. “He knew he wasn’t gonna have the rest of his senior year, he knew he was gonna get a scholarship to go play football. So here’s this kid who was a premie, and now he’s 6’5’’ 280 pounds.”
“I know God preserved both of us for a reason, and I just want to see him embrace that, as he moves forward,” said Dawn.
After overcoming lots of uncertainties, they’re encouraging others to not let the pandemic or other life challenges dampen their spirits.
“Just become like a really tight unit,” Stephen said. “You all have to be there for each other, have each others backs, so that y’all can get through it together.”
They hope their message will inspire others to keep hope alive.MORE NEWS: The United States Attorney’s Office Issues Warning Of Telephone Scams
As several area high schools continue working out the details surrounding their 2020 commencement plans, Cobb County School officials have advised they will decide whether to have a virtual or in-person ceremony by June 1.