Rewind the calendar 21 years and meet Ms. Beaman, then a Ph.D. candidate and newly married for less than a year after a decade of single motherhood. Fatigued, suffering from headaches, and finding herself dropping objects more frequently, Beaman first assumed that she was exhausted by her schedule of teaching five classes, driving hours for her Ph.D. program, and her recent marriage. When she could no longer ignore her symptoms, she underwent an MRI and learned from her doctor that there was conclusive evidence that she had MS.
"I was so relieved that it wasn't a brain tumor," says Beaman, "that I figured I could definitely cope with a diagnosis of MS."
Beaman credits her diagnosing doctor with some of the best advice she's ever received: "You're going to have physical issues that come and go, so my advice is to just go out and live your life."
And live her life she has. Rather than giving up or letting her diagnosis dictate her path, Beaman finished that Ph.D. and the newly-minted Dr. Beaman threw herself into the next two decades, publishing the book Little Miss Merit Badge, winning national accolades as a professor, and earning USA Today's distinction as the mother of "The Most Creative Family in America." She also teaches a fitness "boot camp," and leaves little time to spare lamenting her MS.
How did Beaman achieve all she has throughout the last 20 years? When initially confronted with the MS diagnosis, she thoroughly researched the condition and rather than focus on all the negative possibilities, she was most struck by the story of another woman so severely affected by the disease that she was confined to a wheelchair. Figuring she had nothing to lose, this extraordinary woman took up skydiving because it had been a lifelong dream. Six months later, she was walking again. Beaman took this woman's experiences as a sign that mind over matter could work to overcome disease.
Beaman became what she calls an "endorphin warrior," believing strongly in the power of endorphins, and relying on these natural chemicals to treat the disease. Although she sometimes has bad days, she refuses to acknowledge them as symptoms of MS.
"Most people hear a diagnosis they perceive as bad news and go home to sit down to preserve what they have left," says Beaman. "I chose to take a different approach."
Beaman is always active and on the go, and her outlook is sunny. "People can't choose their circumstances,"