Blogs > Cycling beyond: Jacqueline Beck’s metastatic breast cancer journey

Cycling beyond: Jacqueline Beck’s metastatic breast cancer journey

Jacqueline Beck and her large family stand before a Christmas tree

Her 20s and 30s were filled with work, achievements, and physical activity. When she became a mother of three children, she didn’t stop. Along with her husband, Doug, she got involved in their children's sporting pursuits. Jacquie fondly refers to that period as a "Joe Average life.”

But at 46, life took an unexpected turn. Breast cancer appeared, adding a pause to her active lifestyle. Even a previous hip replacement from intense running couldn't prepare her for this news. A routine mammogram showed a lump, leading to surgery and an early-stage breast cancer diagnosis. After initial treatment, Jacquie took tamoxifen for nine years to reduce her risk of recurrence.

Then, in March 2020, Jacquie received a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis.

Jacquie shares her story about how she has evolved from a competitive athlete to a metastatic breast cancer advocate in a heartfelt conversation with Adriana Lecuona, LBBC’s Digital Content Producer.


Jacquie, how did you initially respond to your metastatic breast cancer diagnosis?

It was like getting kicked in the stomach! I was the good soldier for those nine years after my early-stage diagnosis, and I never dreamed I'd be one of the 35% that went from early-stage to late stage, but God had a different plan. My daughter, Nicole, told me that God needed me to stand by my niece Kerry’s side. She got metastatic breast cancer right from the start when she was 28, and she needed to know that she's not in this alone. So, Kerry and I communicated constantly. Unfortunately, Kerry passed away two years ago.

How have you coped with the challenges that followed?

Gratitude became my focus. I make the best of what I have. I often reflect on Maya Angelou’s quote: “People may not remember your name, but they'll never forget how you made them feel.” Every day I think about what I'm going to do today to support others and to make others look good.

Who plays a crucial role in your decision-making team?

My oncologist is phenomenal, and, Nicole, well, I call her my chief medical officer. She went to Harvard, and she’s in residency now. She guides me through all my medical decisions. I always say to her, if you think this is a path I should take, I'm all in. If anyone's not going to steer me wrong, it's my daughter.

Nicole breaks things down for me. Sometimes I think doctors talk up here, and I'm a pretty smart person when it comes to software products and training people, but I'm not educated in medicine and the chemistries and the biologies. Nicole works closely with me to understand my test results and make decisions.

Can you share more about your treatment journey?

When I was first diagnosed, they put me on Ibrance. But then, my eyes started acting up—double vision and all that. Turns out, it was my brain. To treat, we did this whole brain radiation. And in the middle of all this, I did a cycling challenge for Wounded Warriors. My son's in the military, and I thought, they're out there risking it all for our freedom, some even losing limbs. The least I could do is push those pedals a bit harder.

Even with the radiation going on, I kept riding. Hit 503 miles in September; the goal was 300.

Then came more chemotherapies. Every time I try a new one, I know it's one less in the arsenal. That's why I fundraise for Metavivor. Their focus is the research and development of drugs for late-stage metastatic breast cancer, so there’ll be more options coming down the road to keep me, and others like me, going in order that, Lord willing, we are around to take advantage of a cure. That's kind of where I’m at now.

Jacqueline Beck hugs a golden puppy
Jacqueline Beck wears a workout beanie and poses in front of a framed t-shirt in her honor

How do you maintain your motivation?

Well, here's my mindset. I wake up in the morning, and I have a moment of silence where I think of Kerry and some other people in my family who have lost their battles, and I say a prayer, and then I go downstairs and get on my Peloton. After, I get a little bite to eat. I take all my medicines, and I truly wake up every single morning grateful for that day. No one is guaranteed they're going to live to be 88, 90, 92, no one.

I don't have the ability to run anymore. Now I can't even ride a bike outside. My balance is off, so I have to ride a stationary bike. But you just evolve with what you can do, not what you can't do, and don't be mad at the world.

For example, we were in Hawaii, and the kids were surfing, and I was doing the GoPro video. They said, “Mom, don't you want to surf?”

I said, “My happiness is seeing all of you smile and laugh, while I shoot the video.” In my heyday, I was out in the water with the best of them, but it's just not where I'm at right now in my life. I have to be able to accept that and make the best of it. Instead, I learned how to use the GoPro and editing software, and I made a video of them surfing with the Hawaii 5-0 theme music.

For what it's worth, I'm evolving. I’ve evolved from the athlete, the hands-on role to more of a spectator role, but I'm okay with that. I find joy in witnessing my family's smiles and laughter. I'm grateful, thankful, and blessed that I have another day. And that's how I go about life. No one gets through life unscathed.

If you could change something in healthcare, what would it be?

I wish drug companies would focus their efforts, even their language, around finding a cure. With cancer everything's a treatment, treatment, treatment. When are we going to start using the word cure, cure, cure? It doesn't seem like they're looking very hard for the cure. They're more concerned about getting a treatment because it has a shelf life to it. So, that would be the one thing I would like to change: Let’s incentivize drug companies to intensify the search for a cure.

Any concluding thoughts?

No matter what you did in your past, you step forward once you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness. It changes everything. It changes the way you think. But I don't walk around like I'm wounded. I'm proud. I'm not ashamed to be the one with cancer in the room.



The views and opinions of our bloggers represent the views and opinions of the bloggers alone and not those of Living Beyond Breast Cancer. Also understand that Living Beyond Breast Cancer does not medically review any information or content contained on, or distributed through, its blog and therefore does not endorse the accuracy or reliability of any such information or content. Through our blog, we merely seek to give individuals creative freedom to tell their stories. It is not a substitute for professional counseling or medical advice.



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