I first met Beck when she strolled into my office at Marystown Central High School to have a chat. While I have met hundreds of students over the years, something about this girl stood out to me. She seemed like an old soul in a young body; possessing far too much wisdom for a 17 year old. Later I heard that Beck had “hooked up” (as the young folks would say) with my cousin’s daughter, April, so essentially, she became part of my extended family. I am not quite sure if it happened before or after she met the love of her life, but I do recall the horror I felt upon hearing the devastating news that she had cancer. Even sadder than the diagnosis, was the realization that a medical error prevented her diagnosis from being shared for about a year; a time during which the cancer metastasized to other parts of her body. Essentially, due to a medical over-sight, Beck’s cancer had advanced to stage 4.
I can only imagine the anger and resentment that I would feel towards that doctor; a doctor who admitted to Beck that he must have been “multi-tasking and skimmed her report like a flyer”(to quote Beck’s blog). But instead of being bitter, Beck wrote: “ I understand people make mistakes and I forgive him…..” There are very few people who would be able to forgive a mistake of that magnitude. But that was Beck.
After I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Beck and I kept up a dialogue on facebook, sharing our hopes, fears, and dreams. I remember laughing when she wrote to me: “You are such a girly-girl, it must have been hard for you to lose your hair, but I LOVE my new look!” And as the picture shows, Beck sure did rock that look.
When I started blogging, Beck would often comment on my posts. One of her comments really struck a chord with me and I decided to share it, not only on my blog, but also in my book 100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It. Here is what then 19 year old Beck, said to me:
“I fight because I’m finally happy. I love living life… A lot of people when they’re diagnosed look at it as “I’m dying,” the way I look at it, I’m living until the day I die. I’m trying my hardest to stay strong and keep the people that matter to me, happy. You just have to live each day to the fullest.
Being diagnosed was the best, but worst thing that’s ever happened to me. It made me open my eyes fully and realize how important the simplicity of life is. It’s not about money or fancy things, it’s the simple things like watching my brother grow older, teaching him about the things I’ve learned throughout my lifetime, making my mom smile, and making the best of every day so that when the day comes that I pass away, my loved ones are left with the best of memories.
When people say half the battle is your attitude, it’s so true! When a lot of people are diagnosed, they give up. They’re discouraged, fearful and it’s completely understandable. But if you keep a positive attitude, I believe anyone can beat this, even if the doctor’s say there’s no chance of curing the illness. There ARE miracles!”
Although Beck never experienced a miracle cure of the cancer which took her life on July 23rd, at the young age of 20, her life itself was the miracle. With her fighting attitude, she far out-lived her prognosis, and accomplished some amazing things in the process. How many people with stage 4 cancer do you think would sign up to go to college? That was Beck. How many terminally ill people do you think would devote their precious time left on earth sending words of encouragement to others, such as: “I believe that if everyone made an effort to commit simple, kind gestures for others that this world would be a much greater, peaceful and safe place to live in.” That was Beck.
As I was reading through some of Beck’s Facebook posts this morning, this one written on October 11, 2012 summed it up for me: “If you can’t get a miracle, become one.” Beck, I am happy that you continued to believe in miracles. While you did not get your miracle cure, your beautiful spirit and ageless wisdom was a miracle to all those who were fortunate enough to have been part of your life. When you did not get your miracle, you certainly became one. I believe in angels and I believe that you were an angel on earth, and now you soar with the angels above. May you rest in peace.