When Jack Beckman was diagnosed with lymphoma, a form of cancer, in 2004, it was hard to separate fact from fiction.
The NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car driver vividly remembers hearing from those close to him that he would have to quit his job and that his drag racing career was effectively over.
It was confusing, it was frustrating and Beckman didn’t know exactly what to believe.
“When I got diagnosed, there’s obviously a state of shock and you almost get numb to the whole thing. That’s the time that you need to be so focused to get good direction, good guidance and good information,” Beckman said. “It’s the time when so many people listen to myths from their friends; they get freaked out by stuff that they shouldn’t be; they get bad information; you have to go to your healthcare provider and get the straight scoop.”
Now going on eight years of his last chemotherapy treatment, Beckman is cancer-free and helping others get their questions answered by the people who know best: physicians. Beckman is now a spokesmen for Amgen, a California-based biopharmaceutical company, on its “Chemotherapy: Myths or Facts” campaign, which aims to debunk common misconceptions associated with chemotherapy, and encourages patients and caregivers to take charge of their cancer journey by speaking openly with their doctors.
The campaign will have a strong presence at three upcoming NHRA races – the NHRA Nationals in Sonoma, the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis and the O’Reilly Auto Parts Nationals in Charlotte – and will include an impressive interactive video booth.
It will allow people to briefly talk about what some describe as myths regarding cancer and chemotherapy.
“I feel like I can speak with a lot of credibility on this and that’s why I partnered with AMGEN on this. My story is similar to 10 million Americans who are going through cancer, but everybody does it in an individual way,” Beckman said. “No two cancers are the same and there’s many, many different types of treatment out there, and that really underscores how important it is for people to clear through the myths that are out there. You’ve got to get good information before you start your chemotherapy. This campaign will help give a clearer picture for those who face chemotherapy.”
That’s something Beckman had to face in 2004, hearing a variety of things from a number of different people.
But he took a few close friends to his first appointments to ensure every question was answered.
He ignored the outside “myths” and on Oct. 24, 2004, Beckman had his last chemotherapy treatment. Now, his goal is to help others get their questions answered properly and correctly.
“The reason I got involved is I felt like it was important that people know that there is good information out there,” Beckman said. “(But) there’s a lot of myths out there and you have to get past those.”
Currently in fourth place in the Funny Car points race heading into this weekend’s Mopar Mile-High Nationals in Denver, Beckman is in the middle of a championship chase as one of the drivers on the talented Don Schumacher Racing team.
But the “Chemotherapy: Myths or Facts” campaign will remain an important focus for Beckman through the championship hunt.
“I just talked to a good friend. She and her husband and I raced bracket cars in the 80s, (and) they moved out here and she just had her first chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. This is why this is so important because every day someone is getting diagnosed with cancer,” Beckman said. “When you hear you have cancer, that’s incredibly frightening. Then you hear you’re going to have chemotherapy, and it’s almost equally frightening. So, get the correct information."
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