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UCPCC student loses more than 300 pounds – and wins hearts doing it

Cameron Beckett with his fiancee, Brittany.

Cameron Beckett is your average 24-year-old man.

He enjoys playing “WWE 2K20” on his Xbox One. He loves his fiancée, Brittany. And he talks to his mom on the phone almost daily.

But in 2015, Beckett, who was 525 pounds, was fighting for his life in a Fresno hospital.

Flash forward to 2020: Beckett, now a student at UCPCC’s Center for the Arts and Technology in Fresno, is exercising regularly, eating smaller portions and weighs 196 pounds.

Beckett says he had sepsis, a life-threatening complication of an infection. He was just 20 years old and ended up in a coma for a month.

Beckett says the weight gain began when a tragedy hit his family – he is the youngest of seven children -- in the form of his father dying.

Beckett when he started at UCPCC in 2018.

“After my dad died, my mom became a single mom,” Beckett explains. “And my mom gave in because I would fight with her about food.”

When Beckett woke up at Community Medical Center, he had bed sores from not moving. And he lost a considerable amount of weight. He also needed to learn to walk again.

“My first words was ‘sandwich’ and ‘soda,’” Beckett says. “I was scared.”

Beckett says he even remembers dreaming of being under water.

When he finally left the hospital, Beckett was under 400 pounds.

He underwent surgery before beginning what has been a five-year-long journey to a healthier life.

Beckett moved into a group home. His mother, Ruth, says it’s been a roller-coaster ride.

“He went to the home where he’s at now, and they put him on a really, really strict diet,” Ruth says. “He took to it -- he did not complain! He really, really buckled down.

“I couldn’t have done that -- I have to be honest,” Ruth says, proudly, of her son’s journey. “I couldn’t have done that, but he did it.”

Beckett in January 2019.

During the pandemic, students like Beckett were sent home to safely shelter in place. Beckett has not been at the Fresno center since March.

But the pandemic has not stopped him from what is most important: to reach his goals.

Beckett has been a student at UCPCC since 2018, and in that time he has lost more than 170 pounds.

He says his new goal is to weigh 155 pounds.

Beckett says his healthy lifestyle includes cardio, lifting weights and eating smaller portions.

“I ride my bike around the block, and I eat the same foods (as when he was heavier) but small (portions) now,” Beckett explains.

Beckett shares his routines almost daily on his Facebook page.

UCPCC employee Matt Cantu has been working with Beckett since he started with the day program two years ago.

“We started with just a lot of social therapy,” Cantu says, “getting through his weight and depression he had. And then started working with exercise and then walking.”

Cantu says as Beckett started to lose weight, they worked on his walking. Cantu says he wanted to walk on his own and in Beckett’s words “look normal.”

Beckett in July 2020, down to 196 pounds.

With the pandemic, Cantu and Beckett have shifted to working together virtually.

“I call him three times a week, and we socialize and talk about exercises he can do,” Cantu says. “We get on video and workout together.”

Cantu says Beckett is an inspiration.

“He pushes me,” Cantu says. “He motivates me. … We motivate each other. He’s a great person to be around. He’s a bright and shiny guy.”

Beckett says being a UCPCC student has helped him get to where he is today because UCPCC is a family.

“UCP is a good place,” he says. “They do a wonderful job there, and they’re all in my heart and family.”

Beckett says what helped him on this path to good health was not giving up.

“Life happens to people,” Beckett explains. “Pray and say, ‘Never give up.’ And don’t lose the fight – keep going.”

The next steps for Beckett include getting married to the love of his life, getting a job and getting out on his own.

As determined as Beckett’s journey to better health has been, he’s shown he’s exactly the man to accomplish whatever he sets his mind to.

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