Orangeburg, SC (WLTX) - It all started when Ashanti Pitts was 17. After finding a tumor in her foot, doctors told Ashanti and her mother Kenita that she developed bone cancer.
They pushed through, and started going to college together at Claflin in 2010. The same year, they got the news.
"The doctor came back in and told me that the tumor in my foot spread to my lungs, and that I had seven tumors in my lungs," Ashanti says. "Literally, I had to withdraw from Claflin, move all my things out of the dorm, and the next morning I had surgery on my left lung and had the biggest tumor removed."
Ashanti felt like her world was falling apart.
"I became very depressed. I became very helpless,” said Ashanti. “I lost faith in myself. I lost faith in God. Honestly I did. I stopped going to church for awhile because I kept asking God why me," she said.
Their dream to walk across the stage together began to fade. Kenita wanted to drop out so she could take care of her daughter during treatment.
"It is rough to see your child hurting and you can't do anything,” said Kenita. “That's a terrible feeling. I was just ready to quit because she was more important. A lot goes through your mind. She said, 'No, you will not quit and you're going to do it.'"
Though prayer and faith, Kenita went on and graduated in 2013, but the story doesn't end there. After going through treatment and defeating the odds, Ashanti earned her degree in Claflin's graduating class of 2018.
"Statistics said she wouldn't make it past the age of 22. At 25, she's here," said Kenita.
Ashanti wants others to see the bigger picture when hearing their story.
"Use it as inspiration and motivation to push through because you just never now what someone else is going though at all. There's so many people on this campus and in life that are going through things. All the glory goes to God at the end of the day," said Ashanti.
Through it all, the family wants you to know you can write your own story.
"No matter what the doctors say, God has the last word. Cancer is not a death sentence," said Kenita.
Ashanti is now thinking about earning her graduate degree and Kenita now works at South Carolina State University.