Snapshots: The Beck Family
In our Snapshots blog series, we turn to Maine Cancer Foundation constituents - from staff, board members and other volunteers, donors, grant recipients and beyond - to share important moments in their lives related to cancer. Our series will paint a broad stroke of the cancer landscape in the state, while narrowing the focus into the rare and intimate moments that bring us all together.
Snapshots #2 is the story of the Beck family. In 2014, an MRI revealed a tumor in Derek’s brain. He was only 6 years old. Maxine and her husband rallied around Derek, but as treatments mounted, so did their debt. With the help of Town and Country Federal Credit Union and a loan officer named Erica St. Onge, the Beck family managed to get their finances back on track.
One year after her son Derek was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, Maxine was finally able to catch her breath enough to cry. “Imagine you’re on a horse going full-speed ahead. At some point the horse just stops suddenly and throws you off.”
Before her son’s diagnosis, Maxine was making a respectable salary analyzing electronic medical records. After doctors discovered Derek’s tumor, Maxine’s entire focus rested on her son. His chemotherapy regimen spanned 22 months, coupled with MRI scans, visual field tests, and other eye exams. “With all of his appointments…I went out on short-term disability first,” says Maxine. “I attempted to go back to work, but then I was diagnosed with PTSD, depression and anxiety, so I received long-term disability for a while."
In August 2016, Maxine’s long term disability stopped and their bills continued to grow. They began a mortgage forbearance program and reached out to Town and Country Federal Credit Union for guidance. “I’ve been a member [of TCFCU] for 20 years now,” said Maxine. “We really didn’t know what to do because everything was starting to spiral.”
Cue Loan Officer Erica St. Onge. She worked with Maxine and her husband to consolidate their debt and create a plan to catch up on their bills. “My best piece of advice to someone in a similar position is to communicate,” says Maxine. “Communicate with your credit card and mortgage companies, reach out to your credit union or bank. Where there’s a will there’s a way.”
Today marks over three years since Derek’s diagnosis. His tumor has shrunk 98%. He is legally blind now, and while he is taking time away from playing his favorite sport – baseball – last year, the Bowdoin Baseball Team made him an honorary captain of their team. “Life is like a bunch of roads, with one way streets and dead ends. You’ve got to find your way through,” said Maxine. “The silver lining for us is simple: it’s made us stronger as a family. And there are remarkable people out there who will do anything they can to help.”
For the month of April, Maine Cancer Foundation is discussing the financial burden of cancer. Thank you to Maxine Beck and her family for sharing their story.
Maine Cancer Foundation believes every person should have access to the best care regardless of income. Your generous support makes our vision a reality. Thank you!
Are you a Mainer with a story about cancer? We want to hear about it. E-mail [email protected].