SRU alumna Beck takes the field for last time
Christine (Peuplie) Beck, pictured during a 1988 field hockey game, returned to Slippery Rock University April 8 for a final visit, 27 years after she graduated from the University. Beck has been diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer
April 13, 2016
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - The long road back to Slippery Rock University took 27 years to travel, but for Christine (Peuplie) Beck, the long wait was well worth it. And in the end, it helped her cross something off her bucket list.
"I knew that when I walked across the commencement stage that I'd be back one day," said Beck. "I just didn't know it would take so long for it to happen."
Or under such dire circumstances.
Beck, a 1989 graduate with a bachelor's degree in health and physical education, has been battling breast cancer since 2009. A recent diagnosis elevated her condition to Stage 4.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, although Stage 4 breast cancer is considered incurable, current advances in research and medical technology mean that more and more women are living longer by treating the disease as a chronic condition. With excellent care and support, as well as personal motivation, Stage 4 breast cancer may respond to a number of treatment options that can extend life for several years.
Count Beck among those personally motivated for an extension.
"I have a 10-year old son, Kyle, and a husband, Evan, to look after and care for," said Beck. "The cancer? It is what it is. A lot of people I know, even family members, tell me that I'm in denial...that I act like nothing is wrong. Why, because I live my life?
"If I want to do something, I'll do it, trust me. I may do it a slower than I used to, but I'll get it done."
A prime example of that is Beck's visit to the SRU April 8. A trip, she says, was on her bucket list.
Joanne Leight, professor for physical and health education, planned the trip on Beck's behalf. It included a visit to Mihalik-Thompson Stadium, lunch with SRU President Cheryl Norton and a visit with former Rock women's field hockey coach Jan Kasnevich.
Beck and Leight were teammates on SRU women's field hockey teams from 1984-88 that were coached by Kasnevich. The 1987 squad qualified for the NCAA tournament.
Beck, a 1988 first-team, All-PSAC forward, ranks fourth on SRU's career list for goals scored (20) and fifth in points (41). She also ranks fourth in single-season points scored (28) and third in goals (14), both achieved during the 1988 season.
"This entire visit has been incredible," said Beck. "I'm simply in awe of how this campus has developed and grown since my time here. Although some things never seem to change - I see it's still cold, wet and snowy even in the spring."
Following graduation, Beck, a native Floridian, returned to the "sunshine state" and spent time working in a fitness club, as a substitute teacher, an interim middle school teacher and preschool teacher before spending over a decade as an account manager for a medical software company.
"Since I was in elementary school, I had always said that I wanted to be a teacher," said Beck. "But after spending five or so years in the field, I really felt like I wasn't doing anything more than babysitting, so I changed gears completely by working in software.
"Ultimately, the best job I ever landed was being my son's mother."
It is that role that Beck continues to spend most of her time focused on, even in the face of dealing with her terminal diagnosis. In fact, the Beck family has a standing rule that weekends are to be spent completely free of any type of cancer discussions. As Beck puts it, "it'll still be there on Monday."
"I take care of myself, but I don't dwell on myself," Beck added. "I don't have time to internalize or feel bad; I've got a family that needs me and they are my focus. They are my rock, so I have to be the same for them."
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