Firefighter's life was an inspiration to find a cure PDF | Print | E-mail

North County Staff

It is 9 p.m. on a Monday night and I just returned from a funeral viewing where I waited in line for two hours. There were still about two hours worth of people behind me. It was an amazing tribute to an amazing young woman with a heart as big as the city she served and loved. A tribute to the hero that Mandi Beck was and will be forever in our hearts.

Amanda Hadfield Beck was born in November of 1978 in Lehi to Doug and Suzanne Hadfield. She was always known as a cheerful child. She loved animals and spending time with her family.

She graduated from Lehi High School after meeting her husband Jake. Theirs is a story that we all would love to have, meeting your sweetheart in high school then going on to marry them and share joys and sorrows.

Mandi then went on to graduate from UVSC with a degree in science. She used this degree to work as a firefighter/EMT in Lehi. She and Jake both loved working as EMTs and had many friends among those they worked with, as manifested by the long line before the viewing even started. They were there to pay tribute to their fallen comrade.

Mandi was diagnosed with colon/ovarian cancer in November of 2002. She and Jake got married in December of that same year. She underwent several rounds of chemo therapy, radiation and several alternative treatments as well.

Through it all Mandi has remained cheerful and happy. In June of 2003 she was nominated as EMT of the year in Lehi because of what Captain Ricky Evans termed, "Her passion to help others and her positive attitude, both of which have remained strong since she was diagnosed with cancer eight months ago."

Mandi also worked in the American Fork Emergency Room where co-workers remember her as happy and cheerful and a wonderful friend to everyone. She was honored as ER employee of the year as well.

In her obituary that ran on Feb. 20 her family wrote, "She found her greatest strength in her association with her family and friends and her enduring faith in God. Her dearest wish was realized when she and Jake were sealed in the Salt Lake LDS Temple on April 1, 2004."

Mandi truly loved life and those around her and was always striving to serve them.

I met Mandi in June of 2004, after recruiting her to speak at the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life (my current baby) Opening Ceremonies. I had attended a dinner earlier that year to raise money for some of Mandi's treatments and had immediately been struck by her amazing attitude towards her life and the trials that she was currently going through.

She came and spoke of how you have to use everything that life throws at you to your advantage. She also spoke of how you can draw strength from those around you. She lived those words perfectly.

The following year Lehi City Fire Department put together a team for Relay For Life. They raised money and then walked as "Mandi's Marchers." Mandi was there as a survivor and was still bright and happy, even as sick as she was. She was still fighting.

Now we are here, Monday, February 20, 2006, at 6:15 standing in line to pay our last repsects to a woman who fought with everything she had to conquer this disease that we call cancer. As I stood there looking at the woman who I look up to, and also her husband, who has more strength than I think I'll ever have, I again realized why I go through the motions every year trying to pull together a event that sometimes makes me feel more crazy than anything.

As I walked by that casket and shook Jake's hand I realized why I do Relay For Life.

I do it in the hope that we will find a cure, in the hope that there will be fewer spouses who have to bury their sweethearts. I do it in the hope that we will no longer have to bury 9-year-old boys who die from a brain tumor. I do it so that we can find a cure for cancer. That is why we do Relay For Life.

As I left the viewing, Jake leaned over to me and said, "Count us in for Relay this year." He is grieving, but apparently he has that same hope. But we can't do it alone.

We need everyone in this community, northern Utah County, to help us in the crusade against cancer.

For more information on how you can help, please attend our Team Captains Meeting on March 1 at 6:30 p.m. at Jim's Family Restaurant, 834 E. State St., American Fork.

Relay For Life will take place at Lehi High School on June 2 and 3. The whole community is invited to attend and help us fight cancer. As Helen Keller said, "Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much."

Joanna Hickman,

Northern Utah County Relay For Life Event Chair