RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A Triangle mother is pleading with young people to take their health seriously after doctors diagnosed her 22-year-old son with cancer.

From the time he was a little boy, Carolyn Braxton’s son Richie made her proud with his kind heart and love of helping others.

“He always marched to the beat of his own drum until one day he asked me for some drums,” Braxon recalled.

Once he started playing, Braxton’s son quickly showed his talent as a musician.

“He always told everyone he was going to be on tour one day,” Braxton said.

Sure enough, Richie ended up in a band touring the country. Over the winter, Carolyn went to see them in Los Angeles.

“He came back to the hotel where I was staying, and he had a knot on the side of his neck,” she said. “I was like ‘Okay, we’ve got to go to the emergency room.’ He was like, ‘No, no, Mom. I’ve got a show tomorrow.'”

As weeks went by, they assumed persistent itching was due to dry skin — they attributed coughing and chest pain to symptoms of a cold.

“I noticed he was getting out of breath a lot, but he said he was fine,” Braxton said.

They had little reason to think otherwise. Richie is healthy, but when he developed another lump on his neck and his mom learned he’d been experiencing night sweats, she again urged him to go to the emergency room.

“He said, ‘Mom, I don’t have insurance — I don’t want to have a bill. I’m going to wait. It’ll go away,'” Braxton recalled.

When his symptoms didn’t get better, he finally went to the hospital. Doctors suspected lymphoma, a diagnosis that was soon confirmed.

While the band continues touring, Richie is preparing to start chemotherapy. His mom says his prognosis is good, but she wishes he had gotten his symptoms checked sooner.

As he begins treatment, Braxton hopes her son, who’s always loved helping others, will remind young people to prioritize their health.

“If something’s wrong pay attention,” the mother pleaded. “Pay attention to your body, and go to the doctor.”