Teen cancer survivor lent her strength to other patients

By: Cleo Greene Email
By: Cleo Greene Email
Margaret Beckum

15-year-old Margaret Beckum was diagnosed with cancer. (May 30, 2011 / WRDW-TV)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / May 30, 2011

AUGUSTA---The typical 15-year-old girl is a sophomore in high school, getting ready to drive and hang by the pool with friends. But Margaret Beckum was diagnosed with cancer. She spent every day fighting for the next one.

In the Beckum house, It's a "sundae" tradition: Margaret and her parents preparing dessert. It is a treat that none of them take for granted.

The family says their lives have been like a roller coaster for most of the last year. That is when they got the news that Margaret had cancer.

"Margaret was having trouble breathing, so we were thinking it was bronchitis," said Bill Beckum. Margaret's dad thought antibiotics would clear up a suspected cold.

But it wasn't a cold. A family doctor took an X-ray of Margaret's chest and found a mass so big it covered both lungs and her heart. The family quickly took her to the children's hospital at MCG.

"We entered into the hospital and they actually started radiation immediately," said Jenifer Beckum. She was in utter shock when doctors gave the results of her daughter's X-ray.

Doctors diagnosed Margaret with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. She spent the next 25 days in the hospital. Bill and Jenifer feared they might lose their little girl, but MCG doctors tried to keep them calm.

"I asked the doctor one time, and I said what is the plan?" said Bill Beckum. They told him the plan was to cure his daughter.

"They cured me," Margaret said. She has a style of her own and a personality to match. She quickly made friends and became a big sister to many kids in the pediatric cancer clinic at MCG

"I love to play with children," she said. "I had a smile on my face the whole time I was fighting cancer." She says cancer did not scare her, and she tried to make other kids feel her strength too.

"I was so amazed by her nature and sweet spirit," said Jenifer Beckum. Margaret's mother says during chemotherapy the hospital became a home away from home.

"The doctors would come in and examine her and say where is Margaret," she said. "I would say, oh she is in treatment centers checking on all the kids."

"I loved it and I loved all the nurses," said Margaret. She enjoyed making friends with everyone. Margaret says she also got sad when her friends got sick. She prayed for them and the community prayed for her. A billboard with her picture and a special bible verse went up in her hometown of Thomson, Georgia.

"We are a Christian family and we really felt that we were going to make it all the way through," said Bill Beckum.

Margaret wants other kids to make through too. She wears prayer bands; each one represents a cancer patient she has met.

"I love them and I really care for them," she said.

Margaret's parents say the love and care their daughter received in the hospital allowed them to return back to normal.

Margaret finished her treatment in December and is now in remission. She still gets to see her friends when she goes to MCG's pediatric cancer clinic for check-ups.

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