By Lynda Dell

Imagine if you could send your love and message of healing to every “cancer dancer,”  who is currently waging that battle right now, just by donating your unwanted used jewelry that breast cancer survivor Margie McClarin fashions into “Beat It  Beads” jewelry. This is her way to truly  let others know that they can beat cancer it, too.

Five years ago, Margie McClarin thought her doctors were mistaken when they told her, “You have breast cancer.”

One Saturday morning, when sleeping in instead of going for her morning run, as she rolled over to her right side, she bumped her chest with her right hand and discovered a lump. She thought it was probably nothing and waited a week or so before scheduling an appointment.

Her doctor examined her and as a precaution scheduled McClarin for a scan, which was inconclusive, but the biopsy was not.

McClarin was in complete denial until her second opinion confirmed the diagnosis.

“Then it finally hit me that it was cancer,” recalled this 56-year-old mom in disbelief, “I was numb. The whole time I am thinking they’re not going to find anything at all because I watched what I ate, exercised, and worked out at the gym five days a week.”

When McClarin got home that day, she wept and fell to her knees and prayed. “I just put it in God’s hands. I knew that I was going to fight this--so whatever the doctors wanted me to do, I would do. I have five brothers who taught me how to fight when I was young. I said that I’m going to fight this, and I did.”

First she had a lumpectomy to determine the stage of cancer and possible treatment options, which was followed by a mastectomy.  No chemotherapy or radiation was required, because it was caught early due to regular self-breast examinations. Initially she was seen every month, now every six months.

This suburban Philadelphia resident grew up in Los Angeles, California where all the rest of her family resides. Throughout this ordeal McClarin relied upon her unwavering faith, courageousness, network of friends, and her dedicated son, Eric, who flew in to help her through this nightmare.

“It was difficult but so nice to see my son come out here for a whole week--without running around and visiting with friends. He did not move, not one time, he was in the house the whole time helping me.”

Now that she beat it, she was wondering how to help others to beat cancer.

One morning while McClarin was getting ready for work she heard in her head, ‘This is for you and this is what I want you to do.’  “Chills went through my body when I heard those words.”

Then, after leaving her house, Michael Jackson’s song “Beat It,” drummed in her head all day long incessantly and continued to plague her during her morning run the next day. Suddenly, she stopped midstride, threw her hands up in the air triumphantly screaming, “Beat it Beads!” She finally understood her divine purpose, which became McClarin’s not-for-profit charitable organization Beat It Beads.


 “I always wanted to do something to give back, so I thought that I could bead necklaces to give other women a message of hope.”

McClarin celebrated her 54th birthday with friends, six months from her mastectomy in 2011, and requested old necklaces and other unwanted used jewelry in lieu of gifts. At her party, she informed her friends that she is going to create “Beat it Bead” necklaces and donate them to cancer patients, centers, and hospitals, sending a message of hope that they can beat cancer—like she did.

“Beat it Beads” are all different colors, representing all kinds of people because cancer cuts across all races, creeds, colors, and economic classes. Each bracelet and necklace contains the circle charm engraved with the words “Beat It” and a pink breast cancer ribbon with a rhinestone heart. This mantra symbolizes everyone coming together in a circle to shout out “BEAT IT!”

Each bag of jewelry contains inspiration cards:Someone touched my heart and my soul to give you this message that you can beat this. So don’t be down, get up and fight.”

Thirteen necklaces became 50 by the end of the month when friends and co-workers dug deep to find loose beads and old necklaces. Her daughter, Marlenna, was the first one to string the beaded necklaces together to create beautiful, unique jewelry. The first batch was donated to the Rosenfeld Cancer Center at Abington Hospital, followed by Fox Chase Cancer Center. This led to Beat it Bead Drives at her church, community events, and Pink Day yearly at AmeriHealth, part of Independence Blue Cross.

 “Beat it Beads” workshops are springing up everywhere thanks to McClarin--most recently in elder care facilities. Now residents of the Brandywine Senior Facilities and other elder care homes are also engaged in this meaningful, charitable work that touches so many lives, especially the bead stringers.

Like many other personal crusades, McClarin’s volunteer work has become more than just about the beads. Her cause has connected her to organizations like the American Cancer Society. They found her when she volunteered through her employer Independence Blue Cross on the Blue Crew at the Astra Zenaca Hope Lodge.

When McClarin discovered that this facility, comparable to the Ronald McDonald House, provides lodging at no cost to family members who have to travel out of state for special cancer treatments, she introduced herself and broadened her base of support.

Word traveled fast and soon the American Cancer Society sought her out.   Now she coordinates Look Good Feel Better programs and co-chairs Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walks for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.                            

Once McClarin found the courage to share her story, she has discovered that her voice has become an important tool to raise awareness and build support for her cause. Recently featured on the cover of  Philadelphia Magazine’s Think Pink Breast Cancer edition and appearing in a Beating the Odds Against Breast Cancer commercial for the Making Strides Walk, she has become an icon in the battle against breast cancer.

This customer service representative for AmeriHealth now leads a double life—like many others who are driven by their causes. She says she does it to give mothers, daughters, sisters, and aunts a voice and fighting chance.

The very first lady who commented on her web page said, “I was just admitted to Cancer Center of America in Philadelphia, a very nice girl came to my room and gave me one of the bracelets.  It made my day!!! Thank you so much-- and yes I will beat this.”

 “It brought chills to my body and tears to my eyes, because it just really made me feel so good. It is something that I’m going to do for the rest of my life.”

McClarin explained, “It’s all about putting smiles on faces and letting people know that you are not alone,” explained McClarin.

 You Can Beat Cancer!

Beat It Beads, since inception, has donated 3700 bracelets to cancer patient centers. You can help her reach her goal of 5000, by donating your time or unwanted jewelry.

Visit  www.facebook.com/beatitbeads to learn how you can make a difference.