About Me

Melissa Beach

My name is Melissa Cook. Most people would describe me as a type A, overachiever though being on medical disability has toned that down to the point that recently a doctor actually described me as borderline type A to which my husband and I both laughed. I love life and laugh often. I am known for my smile and determination to be happy. I believe in family, charity, hope, faith, humor, and integrity.  I am driven, generous, trustworthy, and trusting. And sometimes, I am even funny.  I live my life optimistically believing each day is a gift and attempt to achieve my full potential, whatever that might be at the time.

I was born in Michigan and spent my childhood years in MoTown during the 1970s. Yes, that was an exciting time! In 1979 my mother moved my sister and I to Tucson, Arizona where I spent middle school and two years of high school running around the desert. I returned to Michigan for my final year of high school. Overachievement began early for me finishing high school in three years.

I married Elgin Cook at the tender age of nineteen. We had three children in less than three years. We were kids raising babies and toddlers while going to school full-time. Elgin became a teacher in 1990 and went on to complete a masters in curriculum in 1993. We spent our early years in South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. I finished a degree in composite social science for pre-law. Wyoming was a lawyer saturated state with only 1 out of 74 graduates gaining employment in law by Christmas. Despite my lifelong dream of becoming a lawyer, I returned to college and earned a second bachelors degree in secondary education. In 1995 we moved our children to Nelson Lagoon in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska.

Teaching was my love and I never thought of doing anything else with my life after having my own classroom. In my first year of teaching I began to have MS symptoms. Little did I know, MS was going to change the course of my career and my life. At first I thought I might not be able to work. Determination in me refused to give up. I went on to earn a masters degree in educational technology and became an adjunct instructor for the University of Alaska while working as a full-time teacher. Language and cognitive issues directed me on a new path as I left the classroom for school administration believing this would be less stressful and more flexible. Do you hear the laughing in the background? In 2007 I earned a second masters degree in school administration after three years of working in the administrative field. Joke was on me, just as I was ready to enter the next phase of my career as a superintendent of schools, devastating MS symptoms caused me to take a year off and ultimately accept medical disability.

Life has a funny way of working out. As a person who would love to head off to work each day, I find myself sleeping the additional hours my body needs to function. The drive in me is considerably lower but is still there. We’ve all heard the saying, “When life gives you lemons make lemonade,” so small in comparison to my past endeavors, my lemonade has become MSsymptoms.me. #MS #multiplesclerosis