Mother’s Dying Wish of Seeing Her Son Graduate Comes True

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When Jo Ann Mirabelli was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2017 she made herself a promise.

“My goal was to live [until] July of 2021,” said Mirabelli.

Jo Ann’s Story

That would give her enough time to see her youngest child, Jack graduate from Naperville North High School. Unfortunately Jo Ann won’t make that date, as she only has a couple more months to live.

Jo Ann was originally diagnosed in 2011 with stage two-breast cancer. She went through traditional treatments that included chemotherapy. Six years later the cancer came back as metastatic, which means it spread throughout her body.

“It was in my bones and about a year after that it went to my liver,” said Jo Ann. “And so for three and a half years I went through eight different lines of chemotherapy.”

Once Jo Ann was diagnosed was metastatic she knew she was on borrowed time. And so she and her family started a bucket list, that included traveling, spending time with loved ones, setting up some Christmas trees up, and fulfilling a promise she made to herself three years ago.

Mother’s Dying Wish of Seeing Her Son Graduate Comes True

After hearing about Jo Ann’s promise, a couple of teachers from Naperville North wanted to deliver on it. And On Tuesday they did as Jo Ann got to see Jack in a cap and gown, walk across a stage, and graduate.

“It was surreal,” Jo Ann said. “It was something I wanted to see, and I know I won’t in the spring. So it was really sweet that they did that for me and to know he’s going to be ok.”

Jo Ann posted the graduation photos on her Facebook, and on her “Team JoJo” page, which she uses to talk about her journey, and it was met with an outpouring of support.

Her son Jack understandably didn’t want to speak about his mother’s situation, but his dad, John, was proud of his son for graduating in front of his mom.

“I was proud of him,” said John. “That was a big step, you know. It was a big step for him.”

One more bucket list item for Jo Ann is to go see her daughters in Nashville, which she’s currently on route to go do.

When her time comes, Jo Ann wants her loved ones to always remember one thing.

“That they’ll be ok,” said Jo Ann. “And that I’ll always be here. They just have to look for me.”

Her message to community members was simple. Hug your loved ones, and tell them that you love them because you might not know when’s the last time you’ll be able to do so.

Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.


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