Dying Cancer Patient Finds the Strength to Finish Degree

Dying Cancer Patient Finds the Strength to Finish Degree

Written by Elaine Wilson, Posted on , in Section Therapy News

Strength and Determination

“I’ve worked so hard,” said Bev Goulding of Draper, Utah. “After 29 years of going to school, I finally got to graduate. It feels awesome.”

Working so intensely and so long towards any goal makes getting to the end a huge mixture of excitement and relief, but for Bev, this is even more poignant: She is expected to die any day of cancer.

The 46-year-old mother of four has been through radiation and chemotherapy, sickness and sadness, all since the realization just last June that she had terminal cancer. Bev knew that her time was precious, but she still wanted to complete her very personal goal of getting her bachelors degree at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. No matter the days and weeks of constant nausea and extreme exhaustion, Bev was determined to finish her schooling before she died. It has meant that much to her.

As both mother and student, I understand the drive for the education, no matter how long it takes. From start to finish, my own bachelor’s degree took ten years. I remember nights of staying up late studying because I couldn’t do anything until my 5-month-old had fallen asleep, then I would need to pause whenever she woke. My then-husband lived out of town, so I was alone to care for the baby and her three older siblings—all while taking 13 college credits. My first class was at 7:30 in the morning, I had moved myself and my children three hours south of my hometown and we knew no one—all so that I could finish my degree. Many people, including my husband, thought I was completely crazy for going out of my way to go to school. I had very young children and plenty to do at home—but something compelled me. I wanted to finish my degree, no matter how long it took or how much sleep I missed. And when I sat there in that very large auditorium with hundreds of other students wearing black caps and gowns, I felt the most incredible sense of accomplishment that was different than even the beautiful feeling of motherhood. I had beaten the homework, the exams, the hours of writing papers and yawning over my computer. And even now, I miss school.

Sickness and Schooling

Bev pushed through more opposition than I could ever imagine just to complete her last year of school, and I hope she realizes what an amazing achievement that is. In her final days, she is leaving a legacy of learning and determination for her sweet children. BYU held a special graduation ceremony in Bev’s honor, just in case she does not make it to April’s school-wide event. Bev’s family and friends shared their love and pride for just how much this amazing woman has done.

“Congratulations, Mom,” her son said, choking up, but with a smile.

But this is a day to celebrate. Bev’s degree rests proudly in its leather case, and she is surrounded by her family and friends to celebrate her long-awaited life event. And today, it is her 47th birthday. 

Happy Birthday, Bev Goulding. You are an excellent example to all of us.


Donations to Bev and her family can be made at any Wells Fargo, under the account name

“Royal, Strong, and True Donation Fund."