Marianne Crowley
© Courtesy of the Daily Press

In 1987, Beverly Williams began a battle with rheumatoid arthritis. Williams was a 22-year-old newspaper reporter, fresh out of Virginia Tech, when her hands started to hurt. Her doctor sent her to a specialist who diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis. She took the news lightly. "But if I knew then, what I know now," she says, "I would have been devastated."

Over the years, her knees, hips, and shoulders started popping. One by one, Williams had them replaced with artificial joints. "I'm half me, half titanium," she laughs.

Despite all the pain and so many surgeries, Williams says she struggled the most with one challenge: giving up her independence. "It was a long time before I would ask for help," she says, "Now I don't hesitate for one second." She often asks male friends to help her with...

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