MANCHESTER — Watching her niece battle a rare form of cancer, Brenda Garcia doesn't ask why the mother of two has to go through a fight for her young life.
"God has a plan," said Garcia. "He always does. I think this was to help show the community how to come together. Sometimes we forget how to help each other."
Garcia said her niece, Amanda Beauchamp, 25, came down with what she thought was a bad case of pneumonia earlier this year. She took medication, rested, but just couldn't shake the illness.
"That's when she went back in, and they looked at her again," said Garcia. "We never thought it was cancer."
Beauchamp was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer, currently considered incurable.
"It started with a tumor a lung, and now she has only one lung that is functioning," said Garcia. "Every day is a struggle for her."
Garcia said Beauchamp — niece of city school board member Roger Beauchamp — has begun an aggressive form of chemotherapy, in the hopes of shrinking her tumor.
"It will hopefully improve her quality of life, but it wipes her out," said Garcia. "There's not a lot of news out there of anyone living with this beyond five years after you're diagnosed."
The young mother of two — she has a son Devine, 2, and daughter Imani, 1 — suddenly went from making plans to marking time, as those around her began to think about her children's futures.
"She is such a great mom," said Garcia. "For a little girl who wasn't sure she wanted to have kids, she has grown into a wonderful and loving mother. God has a reason for everything, and I think the reason he gave her these children right after each other is so she could experience the joy they bring. She loves sitting outside and watching them play."
Garcia, a lifelong Manchester resident who works at Catholic Medical Center, said her family of eight brothers and sisters are ready to help take care of Amanda's kids in the coming years, and have organized fundraisers to help pay for medical costs as well as the children's future needs. A spaghetti dinner was held this week, which Garcia said was a big success.
"The turnout was great," said Garcia. "There were so many people there. Everyone comes together to help with something like this. Amanda worked at a Dunkin' Donuts, and the company donated $11,000. They were so generous."
Garcia said many area restaurants and stores helped with the dinner, which was held at the St. Raphael Church cafeteria on Walker Street in Manchester. She said the total raised at the event had yet to be determined.
The Growing Years Early Childhood Center, which both of Amanda's children attend, is accepting donations on behalf of the family. Those wishing to help with donations can do so by making a check payable to The Ross Children's Fund, c/o The Growing Years at 130 Harvell Street, Manchester, NH 03102. Donations to the fund can also be dropped off at any St. Mary's Bank location in the city.