Mary Beck- Age 6, Mountain-Climber

Donna Kim-Brand

When we want to wax lyrical about life, we often use imagery of nature: the sunshine of happiness, the storms of life, peaks and valleys of experience, rivers of fortune, tree trunks both strong yet flexible, rainbows of good luck… And we talk about the days of our lives as a journey.

You’ve probably also heard that the reason people climb mountains is because they are there; taunting us in all their majesty to tame the natural forces held upon them and within ourselves. Something about the lure of the summit and conquering the secrets hidden in her every nook and cranny on the way there beckons, despite all the grueling training required, the need for both self-reliance and a strong ethic of teamwork, the life and death consequences of each step, and the treacherous and tiresome journey downward whether the peak was reached or not.

What might begin as a whimsical notion either disappears with the stark reality of the quest, or strengthens a climber’s resolve and the bonds between committed fellow climbers in the process. Somehow, the choice to make that journey to the summit brings out the best in us and in others who become involved.

Allow me to introduce you to 6 year old Mary Anna Beck- adorable, smart, amazing, beautiful and, beyond all else, brave Mary Beck. In her case, the mountain came to her by way of a diagnosis last year at age 5 of kidney and lung cancer called Bilateral Wilms Tumors. Mary, her parents and three older brothers have become unwitting mountain climbers in the journey to restore Mary’s vibrant health.

Month by month over the past year and a half, Mary has endured endless bouts of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, needles, transfusions, and surgeries to remove her left kidney and many lymph nodes. She has taken each day and each treatment, step by step, feeling ill and isolated from family and friends, dealing with losing her beautiful long blond tresses and having to forego her soccer, dance and gymnastics classes. Like a steady mountain lioness, Mary keeps her spirit strong and, despite the toll on her tiny body, absorbs each daily drama on her quest to reach the summit of restored health. Her family, friends and medical staff have become her committed teammates in this unexpected, treacherous journey.

In August 2014, scans finally showed that while most tumors had cleared, microscopic cells may still harbor dangers. Her chances for recurrence are high, so the battle is not yet over. It’s like reaching the first peak in view, from which you can see there is still farther to go. However, taking all in stride yet again, young Mary maintains her courageous spirit, continuing her climb to full health. It takes ‘heart’ to stay the course on journeys like this, and you may know that the root of the word Courage is Coeur- French for heart. Mary has it in gobs.

To quote her mother, ” It has been a completely overwhelming experience for our family. Mary’s three older brothers are wonderful with their little sister but they worry about her a lot.  Many days we felt like we were going to drown in sadness. And yet, all these months have passed and Mary continues to fight…Throughout this unbearable time something amazing happened….Mary happened. She showed us (her parents), her brothers, her extended family, her nurses and doctors, her school, and the whole community, that she is not going to let these “bad bumps” in her body hold her back.  Mary is a strong little girl with a sassy personality and an old soul. Her beautiful spirit keeps all of us going and SHE continues to “show US the way”. 

And thus, a hero is born: one resilient Mary Anna Beck, age 6, Mountain Climber. One who, in climbing her own summit, enriches all who climb with her. Like all memorable journeys, transformation for all involved is taking place simply by being there. Still, it’s a lonely journey, and surely Mary and her family could use some support from our Hair Chatter community.

They are grateful to everyone for your positive energy and prayers . Should you wish to show your support through donations, they will go directly to Mary’s Miracle Fund to use for her ongoing care on the long climb still ahead.

You can also write words of support to: Mary Beck (and her family), 1544 Bristol Pike, Bensalem, Pennsylvania 19020.  Thank you in advance for sharing your TLC, and may your own journey weave you a most lovely and rich tapestry of life.

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