All About Mary Beth
Mary Beth Benison was born in Worcester, MA, the oldest of seven children. She grew up in the Tatnuck Square area of Worcester and attended St. Peter-Marian High School and Assumption College. She worked for over twenty years at Aspect Communications and after being laid off in 2010 decided to pursue her dream and in October 2011 she opened up a cupcake shop in Northboro, MA called CocoBeni Confections. For over 20 years she and her husband lived in Shrewsbury, MA and she was very active. Aside of her love for music and dancing, she loved chocolate and she loved to read and exercise. She started a book club, would often workout at the Boroughs Family YMCA and would do yoga and participated in several half marathons in New York City. She was very close to her family and had more friends than anyone I have ever met. Each one would proudly say they were her best friend and she would say the same about them. She genuinely cared about people and in whatever way she could she tried to give back to the community.
After going through month and months of grueling tests, Mary Beth received a confirmed diagnosis on ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) in December 2014. ALS or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Mary Beth passed away on May 3, 2015 at 53 years old. However, ALS is only part of her story. Over a 15 year period Mary Beth endured more medical issues than many have to face in a lifetime. In 1999 she was diagnosed with a Brain Tumor, and she underwent a 17 hour surgery which left her with partial paralysis of her face and neck, partial hearing loss and the need for physical therapy to learn to walk, talk and eat again. In 2004 she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and successfully underwent treatment. Until her death she continued to battle an ongoing autoimmune disease that periodically flared up and would attack her hearing. In June 2014 prior to receiving the ALS diagnosis Mary Beth was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an aggressive and terminal form of lung cancer. At the time of her mesothelioma diagnosis she said to me that all she wanted was "ten more years" and I truly believe she would have had that if not for the ALS diagnosis. Out of all of the health challenges she faced ALS was by far the most aggressive and life altering disease she fought. Despite being faced with one challenge after another and even after being diagnosed with two terminal illnesses in less than a year Mary Beth continued to try to stay positive. It wasn’t always easy but she was a fighter and a true inspiration to many.
In January of 2015 when Mary Beth was losing her ability to do the things she loved, she decided to come up with a fun way to continue to help raise awareness for ALS. As I mentioned before she loved music and she loved to dance so she decided to start the Shake Off ALS Awareness Project. Last year we received over 60 videos in her honor from family, friends and people all over the country, (GH2 Fitness, dance teams, elementary schools, high schools, colleges, hockey teams, field hockey teams etc.) helping us Shake Off ALS. We are going to continue this effort in her memory, in memory of all who have lost their battle with ALS and in honor all those who continue to fight every day.
Mary Beth was an amazing woman and a tremendous example of someone with courage and faith. When she passed away we lost our hero, our best friend, our foundation. One thing Mary Beth loved was the secret garden that a neighbor had created. She would spend hours walking through and she made a point to bring her family to it so we could see and admire the beauty. She posted a picture of a sign back in December 2013 which said: "Laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you can't change. Kiss slowly, forgive quickly, play hard, take chances, give everything and have no regrets. Life is too short to be anything but happy!" Thank you Mary Beth for touching so many lives and sharing your story with us. May you be at peace and know that you were loved so much by so many.