It would have been easy for Mary McAlary to throw in the towel and submit to the excruciating pain she was dealing with after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
But the Andover mother of three instead decided to fight back. And she's glad she did.
"My very survival had been threatened and I had to choose between flight or flight," writes McAlary in her new book, "The Winning Spirit, The Art of Winning Your Fight."
It's been almost 11 years since that life-changing moment and now she is pain- and medication-free.
The glamorous 66-year-old grandmother of four had a lifestyle overhaul during the past decade. She became a certified holistic health coach. She switched to an organic whole-foods diet. She is now in the best shape of her life as a result of the those changes.
When asked what the key was to a pain-free life, she said, it was all about avoiding sugar and artificial additives.
"I was miserable," she said. "I was taking 9 to 12 pills a day for the pain and barely moving. I saw five neurologists. Little is known about MS and there is no cure. When you have it, the location of brain lesions affects parts of the body directly related to that location. In my case, it was attacking my nerve pain center and the pain was severe."
McAlary's remarkable lifestyle overhaul that has left her pain-free caught the eye of George "Monk" Foreman III, son of professional boxer George Foreman.
Foreman runs a boxing gym in Boston where McAlary's son works out. They were introduced and once Foreman heard her inspirational story, the book deal was sealed.
He co-authored McAlary's book as he found her story "inspirational to others."
"Mary's is a real story," he said. "She's a fighter and faced many challenges but never quit. That's what is great about her story."
Foreman, 32, plans to write a series of books about winning fights against challenges. McAlary's book is the first. He wants his series of books to tell the tales of everyday people fighting challenges and beating them, like McAlary did. He's on a mission to foster a community of everyday fighters that inspire, he said. The book idea grew from his personal experience with his famous father, who is now a preacher. And, he will launch a website that presents vignettes of people who are successfully beating their individual challenges.
"It worked out well for both of us to team up and write this book," McAlary said. "We both believe that you can come back swinging from the bad news from a doctor's report. You can emerge a stronger person."
"The Fighting Spirit, The Art of Winning Your Fight," is a 120-page book published by Changing Lives Press. It is available on Amazon.