Tuesday, March 15,
By Suzanne Chessler / Special to The Detroit News
LIVONIA--Pam Beaudry of Redford started raising money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in 1990 by helping out with their motorcycle and running events. Her husband, Doug, is a cyclist, and she enjoys being his passenger.
At the time they began their affiliation, she was having some hard-to-define aches and pains. Not very long after that, she had trouble walking. It took a number of doctor visits before a diagnosis was made -- multiple sclerosis.
"I never thought I had MS," she says. "I learned that it can take a while to find that out."
Beaudry quickly decided she wanted to connect with other people in her situation and joined a fellowship support group. Two years ago, she volunteered to be the leader of Group Exercise for Multiple Sclerosis (GEMS). Most Friday evenings, members meet at the Livonia YMCA, first swimming and then talking. Participant counts range from 30 to 60.
"I schedule speakers -- occupational therapists, physical therapists, firefighters -- and we have a good information exchange, give each other hope and become friends," Beaudry says. "I want to keep positive attitudes going."
Group members talk about medications, questions for doctors, relevant Internet sites, handicapped parking and anything else in their thoughts.
"In some ways, being diagnosed has been a blessing for me," she says. "It's brought my family closer, given me true friends and made me appreciate every day."
How to help
What: National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Michigan Chapter.
Purpose: Provide support for people with multiple sclerosis.
Civic Center, Southfield; (248) 350-0020.
is a Metro Detroit free-lance writer.