CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WJZY) – Jordyn McKey was stunned when she was crowned Miss North Carolina USA after an emotional week supporting her boyfriend through a health crisis.
“I showed up very raw, I showed up very emotional,” McKey said. “Earlier that week, my boyfriend had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, which was a huge shock to all of us.”
Her boyfriend’s tumor was the size of a baseball. Days before the pageant, he had brain surgery.
“I obviously, at that point, knew that I wasn’t going to be competing and that this wasn’t going to be something I’m doing this week because how could I?”
After surgery in Charlotte, “he opened his eyes, looked at me, and said, ‘Why aren’t you in High Point?'” McKey recalled. The pageant was being hosted in High Point, North Carolina.
He urged her to chase her dream while he remained in the hospital.
Video from her preliminary interview shows McKey speaking openly to the judging panel.
“My boyfriend earlier this week was diagnosed with a glioma—brain cancer—and had surgery 48 hours ago,” she explained.
“Oh wow,” a judge is heard saying.
“Yes,” McKey continued. “And I wouldn’t be in front of any of you today had he not told me to go to High Point 45 minutes after he woke up after brain surgery.”
“It was very difficult,” she said about the interview. “But I think that’s what made it relatable. … I think this year I really showed up very candid. Like, ‘This is me, and this is what I’m going through, and this is what my week has looked like.’ But there’s something so relatable in being so beautifully broken and being human.”
Her boyfriend was watching the live stream with his family when she was crowned winner. Afterward, they spoke on FaceTime.
“I told him, you know this is all for you,” she remembered.
Earlier this month, McKey’s boyfriend had a second cancer surgery at Duke Cancer Center, where he’ll continue to receive treatment.