Cathy Chester | An Empowered Spirit

An Emmy Award Winner Conquers The Music World And His Battle Against Multiple Sclerosis

NOTE:  In my interview of Emmy Award winning composer Jeff Beal (House of Cards, Monk, Pollock, Ugly Betty) he talked about composing music, his diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, and his success with the controversial (and non FDA approved) procedure, CCSVI.

jeff beal

Jeff Beal

It’s an uplifting story about a man born with the gift for making music, who wanted to overcome obstacles and continue to be a good husband, father and composer.     

My family was eagerly anticipating a new television show about a famous San Francisco obsessive-compulsive detective who had an uncanny ability to solve hundreds of seemingly unsolvable murders. After an endless stream of commercials, the show was set to begin.

My first recollection of watching Monk was not of the show itself, but of the first few melodious notes played on an acoustic guitar that was reminiscent of Django Reinhardt.

Jeff beal

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The melody was instantly engaging.  Deeply rooted in jazz, its sweet and tender notes seemed to guilelessly wrap themselves around the gentle yet tragic main character. In other words, the score was perfect.

How often do you watch a TV show and fall in love with the music?

There are a handful of theme songs that are memorable – Hawaii Five-O, All In The Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I Love Lucy and Cheers.

After the first episode of Monk was over, I waited to read the end credits to see who the musical genius was behind the score.

Enter Jeff Beal.  

An review of the Monk soundtrack said it best:

“Composer Jeff Beal picks up the many loose threads of the lovably obsessed gumshoe’s personality and weaves them into one of contemporary television’s most consistently pleasing jazz-rooted scores. Anchored by a jaunty, guitar-driven theme…that invokes the carefree verve of Django Reinhardt..” 

I dug deeper to find out more about Mr. Beal. It didn’t surprise me to learn he had a long and varied list of musical accomplishments.


As a versatile composer of music, he combines different genres to write the soundtracks for films (Pollock, Appaloosa) and television shows (Ugly Betty, House of Cards, Monk). He also is a highly regarded jazz instrumentalist who composed music long before a request from Chick Corea came his way to score a concerto for bassist John Patittucci.

His first critical acclaim came from the musical score of Ed Harris’ Pollock, and has since been nominated for eight Emmy Awards, winning three of them with TNT’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes Battleground, USA’s main theme for Monk and the documentary Peggy and Dorothy which aired during the 2002 Winter Olympics.

He currently writes the musical score for Netflix’s original production of House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey.

Life was good for Jeff Beal.

In October 2012, an article in The New York Times appeared about a controversial Multiple Sclerosis “cure” called CCSVI (chronic cerebralspinal venous insufficiency).

Dr. Paolo Zamboni, an Italian vascular surgeon “hypothesized that the real cause of MS was something called ‘chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI).’”  He contended that veins were being blocked, preventing blood from draining from the head, causing iron to back up into the brain and causing damage to the nerves that sends signals to the body.

Dr. Zamboni developed a procedure that would surgically open veins in people with MS, restoring normal blood flow to the brain.  Some of the MS and medical community were up in arms over this new and controversial theory. MS has always been thought of as an autoimmune disease.  This new school of thought was unthinkable. Many thought it was a scam.  (NOTE: CCSVI is not FDA approved.)

Yet many patients began telling stories about the CCSVI procedure helping them regain the ability to walk and function more normally.

One of the patients quoted in The New York Times article was Jeff Beal.

In 2009, Beal began to suffer troubling issues such as brain fog, fatigue and difficulty when walking.  He received the shattering news that he was suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.

Beal wondered how he would continue being a good father and husband to his wife, Joan. He felt his life was slipping away.

According to The New York Times article,  “Jeff recalls that after his diagnosis, Joan immediately launched into hypervigilant great-wife mode and began researching the disease and interacting with M.S. patients online.”  She wasn’t happy with the answers she was receiving from the medical profession, and was equally unhappy that no doctor was able to predict whether or not Jeff’s MS would become progressively worse.

After conducting her own research, Joan came across Dr. Zamboni and his “controversial cure.”  Jeff became excited at the prospect of feeling better and immediately asked, “Where do I sign up?”

In May 2009, Beal became the first person in United States to receive the CCSVI treatment.  He added, “I was awake during the procedure and it was incredible.  Halfway through, I felt less brain fog, more clarity, less fatigue and more alert.”  When the procedure was over, he was ecstatic.  He began to feel like his old self again.


The Happy Couple: Jeff and Joan Beal

This was great news for Jeff Beal.  This quiet man who loves to work in his private music studio at home got a second chance at life.  Now he’s able to spend time doing what he loves most – sharing quality time with his wife and children.

And, of course, composing and listening to the music he loves and treasures.

I look forward to listening to the next Jeff Beal composition. His journey has begun anew, with the gift of writing his own unique style of music fully intact, ready for all to enjoy.

What do you think about CCSVI?   

Further reading about CCSVI:
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society
CCSVI Alliance

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54 thoughts on “An Emmy Award Winner Conquers The Music World And His Battle Against Multiple Sclerosis

  1. Lois Alter Mark

    Good for you for publishing this. I think controversial medical procedures and “cures” need to be publicized as long as there’s full disclosure that they’re not FDA-approved. For some people, these may be their only hope — and they may actually work, as evidenced here! They may also lead to more research, more education, more possibilities. I’m glad Jeff is doing so well. This story may literally be music to many readers’ ears.

    1. Post author


      Thank you so much! You know your words mean a great deal to me, so I appreciate your sentiments.

      Thanks for your support of MS and the possibility for better medications. Makes me feel lighter.

      Big hugs to you, my friend~

  2. Ginger Kay

    It seems like scientists are continually discovering that they’ve come to inaccurate conclusions on the causes of various diseases. Last week, someone told me about PANDAS, which is strep infection that brings an acute onset of childhood OCD and anorexia. Years ago I read about chronic lower back pain – formerly treated only with surgery – also being discovered to have a viral cause. You’d think by now the medical community should be looking more closely at and for alternate explanations for disease, or even that the same group of symptoms could have multiple causes. The entire field is made up of stories of such discoveries. (Which is not to say that every alternative theory is true or every treatment works; sometimes it really is snake oil.)

    1. Post author

      Unfortunately the medical community is so cautious about everything. We live in a litigious society. Plus some get comfortable with one pharmaceutical company and push their product over others.

      We all must be our own advocates, reading, researching, asking the tough questions. Without that we’re lost.

      Thanks for sharing your fabulous thoughts with me. I truly appreciate you taking the time to write them. Very interesting information you shared.


  3. Amy FarrahFowler Vega

    I don’t think that it’s too controversial. I just think that it’s really short and doesn’t give a lot of information. That’s probably why it was rejected. I don’t feel like I know anymore about CCSVI than I did 5 minutes ago before I read the article. I just have one man and his anecdote.

    1. Post author

      Thank you for reading my post, Amy. I appreciate your candid comments.

      The post was really about Jeff Beal, who he is and how he took a chance on CCSVI. It was not an article solely about CCSVI,and that is why I provided a few links at the end of the post if readers would like to learn more about it.

      MS manifests itself differently in each person, and so do any mediations and procedures. Yes, this is one man’s personal story, but that was my intent – to tell his story.

      I hope you click on the links to learn more about CCSVI.

      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.


  4. Helene Bludman

    This is a great story with a happy ending. No idea why HP would reject it. Thank you for sharing the life and career of Jeff Beal. I too can be very moved by hypnotic theme songs. M.A.S.H. was one of my favorites. Lovely post, Cathy.

    1. Post author

      Thank you, Helene. I am so glad you feel that way, and that you enjoyed the post.

      I love M*A*S*H too. How could I have left that out? I OWN all 11 seasons!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate reading what you have to say!


  5. Walker Thornton

    I can certainly relate the that quest to take risks and try something new in the face of such an often debilitating disease like MS. I can’t understand why Huffington Post rejected this given the varied level of content they publish–this is well written and tells a compelling story without sounding like quackery.
    So glad the story has found a home.

    1. Post author


      I know you know how people will try anything to get well when approved medications don’t work. I was proud to tell the story of Jeff Beal. He’s such a nice guy, and very brave of him to try this procedure.

      Thank you for your comments about my writing and my post. Coming from you they mean a lot.

      Best always~

  6. Ronna

    Wow. Cathy, this is an amazing story. I am not sure why Huff Po rejected it–people with all sorts of debilitating diseases should know everything possible about alternative therapies. Perhaps Jeff will be able to give this some publicity. Great story.

    1. Post author

      Thanks you, Ronna, for sharing your thoughts and enjoying this story. It’s an important one, and I am so glad you read it.

      Information should be readily available about every illness, and sometimes it’s up to bloggers to get information published for the benefit of all patients. We don’t walk in anyone else’s shoes; what works for one person may not for another. Everyone has the right to make informed decisions based on reliable information. One man’s story can illustrate a positive outcome.

      Plus Jeff is a really nice guy, and I loved getting his story out!

      Thanks for stopping by, Ronna.

      Best always (and Happy New Year) ~

  7. Sue

    Hi, I like inspiring stories about different treatments that have worked. Jeff was brave to undergo this treatment hoping for a good outcome, and he got it.

    1. Post author

      He was brave, wasn’t he Sue? He is still doing well, has added one FDA approved medication to help, but overall he’s still busy at work and loving his family life!

      Thank you for your support and for sharing your thoughts.


  8. Yolanda LC MacKenzie

    Thank you Kathy for sharing this story.
    So many times we face information is blocked by those who stay stagnant,and choose to not share,as in news organizations.
    So glad for Mr Beal,bravo,thinking outside the box takes a leap of faith.
    These shares are the impetus to explore and keep up with other options for the many of us living with MS.
    I think that Canadian Study that was published did a genuine disservice to the procedure and its positive implications in MS.
    I read an extensive article countering that there was serious failure and flawed applications,of the CCSVI procedures done in the Canadian Study,.
    That they failed to meet the Gold Standard in application,thereby falling short of how the procedure should have been carried forth.
    To my laypersons perspective,it never made sense to me,that a Neurologist,learned the procedure in a one week visit to Italy with technicians supposedly familiar with the procedure.
    I could never in my wildest dreams even conceive of a Neurologist deferring to a tech for any part of a surgical procedure,for those who might suggest the techs in the study were more familiar with Dr Zamboni’s methods.
    A genuine miss by the other so-called news organizations.
    Makes me truly wonder about what and why they do ALLOW to be published.
    I am most grateful for you going ahead with the article on your blog.
    Lovely to know the great music of Mr Beal,will continue.

    1. Post author

      Oh, Yolanda, what great comments you shared with me. I sincerely appreciate them.

      I say, if something works for someone without any negative side effects of any kind – if it helps them, then that is what is good and right for them! I think we don’t walk in anyone’s shoes.

      Jeff’s story needed to get out. He is a kind and wonderful person, a gifted composer and a fabulous husband and father. I wrote this for him, and to let others know they have to do their homework and make their own decisions of what path they will go to help with their own specific form of MS. Does that make sense? I hope so!

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post and sharing your viewpoint.

      Here’s to healthy days~

  9. Jennifer Wagner

    I think that this was a great post for you to share. Not only did I learn so much about a remarkable musician and a few of my favorite TV shows, but learning that there may possibly be a new treatment or cure for a condition that so many suffer from is amazing. I know that doctors like to be careful and not rush into new treatments without a great deal of testing, but Jeff Beal’s treatment was 4 years ago. I don’t know how he is doing now or if anyone has had it since, but assuming Beal is still doing well, I hope that this treatment is going forward.

    1. Post author

      Thanks, Jennifer. Jeff is doing well, and has added Copaxone (daily injectable that I take) to stay well. He is composing, and I am anticipating his music for the next season of “House of Cards”!

      I think whatever works best for someone is what is right for them. CCSVI is not only dividing the medical community but I’ve seen it pit patient against patient, which is very disturbing to me. Plus many doctors push one pharmaceutical over another if they have some kind of “relationship” with a company (technically illegal). So I wanted to publish this for Jeff’s sake (he such a NICE guy that I really wanted to get this article read by many, many people), and also to show people sometimes we have to think outside of the box. As long as it doesn’t harm us.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on my blog. I sincerely appreciate it!


    1. Post author


      After being HACKED, my blog still has a few glitches that need to be worked out. But I got your comment, and that’s what matters most to me!

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. CCSVI seems to be such a touchy issue, but I thought Jeff’s story was an important one to get out.

      I sincerely appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

      Best to you~

  10. pamhoughton

    I don’t think anybody ever knows with any certainty what treatments will work and for whom. I’m glad Jeff Beal was able to participate and improve his quality of life.

    1. Post author

      Sometimes we, the disabled community, feel like guinea pigs. Sometimes we’re also at the mercy of doctors, because they have relationships with pharmaceutical companies and push one medication over another. CCSVI is even pitting patient against patient. But it’s understandable when some have a very different form of MS than I do, and are getting progressively worse.

      My point is, Pam, that I agree with you. And because of that, I feel if a procedure or medication is deemed “controversial” but it works for someone, then good for them. We don’t walk in anyone else’s shoes!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I sincerely appreciate it.


    1. Post author

      Thanks for letting me know about HP, Sharon. It’s not the rejection as much as it’s getting the word out about Jeff and CCSVI.

      Oh, well. I am getting a lot of feedback on my blog, as well as the 15 or so private FB MS groups I am a part of. That is what counts!

      Thanks for leaving your thoughts, Sharon. You are a dear friend.


  11. Angela Jarnagin

    Good for him, and for you for interviewing him and sharing his story. The FDA standard is not always the end-all for everything. We ALL have to follow our own instincts and do what works best for ourselves. I’m glad he is feeling better and had such great results.

    1. Post author

      You are so right, Angela. It’s really whatever works well for someone, not always a gold seal of approval for some standard. Who knows what one would do given the circumstance when no FDA approved modes work, but something outside of the box would.

      I appreciate you sharing your thoughts here on my blog. They are greatly appreciated.


    1. Post author

      I agree, Beverly. If they can publish nonsense about Miley Cyrus and the Kardashians, why can’t they publish something about a controversial procedure for a disability, and how an Emmy Award winner used it successfully? Baffling.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate it.

      Best always~

  12. haralee

    Yikes NO! Because some one has an alternative procedure and it worked for him, everyone knows with diseases that not every procedure works for every individual. Who could not feel happy for him whether you agree with the the treatment or not? Keep submitting Cathy!

    1. Post author

      Thanks, Haralee! Unfortunately not everyone thinks like us. They don’t like the procedure, even if it works for someone. How can you argue when someone gets their functionality restored? I can’t help but be happy for them.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You are my private cheering section, and I love it!

      Have a great day~

  13. Deb Murray

    I always learn so much from your posts and appreciate you publishing controversial and thought provoking topics. By putting this out there, you may inspire someone to research this procedure and perhaps change their life in a very meaningful way. You go Cath!

    1. Post author

      Thanks, Deb. I love knowing you are reading my words and learning at the same time. THAT makes me feel so good!

      You are endlessly supportive and I sincerely appreciate that. You are amazing.

      Big hugs~

  14. Jane Gassner

    Who knows why HuffPo rejected it. It’s such a subjective thing. I had a friend who had an article on adopting her daughter killed by the editor of a major women’s magazine because the editor, who had assigned the piece in the first place, had issues with private adoptions.

    1. Post author

      Who knows, Jane, why they rejected your friend’s story or mine. I wasn’t upset, but wanted to get my story out. After several months of rejections I decided to just post it on my blog. It paid off. I received the widest readership EVER, plus commnents in my 15 private FB MS groups, including Jeff’s wife. So it was quite successful!

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Love hearing from you!


  15. Christopher McNamara

    I suspect Huffington Post may have rejected it because it is erroneous in several ways.

    CCVI is controversial because Zamboni’s method has not been subjected to scientific scrutiny.

    MS doesn’t prevent you from being a good father; either you’re a good father or you’re not.

    MS affects every person in different ways. Most journalists do not understand MS and so they can’t write authoritatively about it.

    It’s not a terminal disease (though sometimes you wish it was) and yet that’s how it’s sometimes described. Most people who have MS die with it, not because of it.

    The web is full of anecdotal ‘evidence’ of miracle cures but that’s all they are: anecdotes.

    I found your article a little mawkish. Unproven medical procedures reported as miracle cures are bad science reported by bad journalism.

    Some neurologists in the USA may get rich from drug company relationships but they don’t in the UK, where there is no rush to embrace CCVI. And I doubt Zanboni’s providing treatment altruistically.

    1. Post author


      Thank you for sharing your thoughts about my post about Jeff Beal and his success with CCSVI.

      First, I am not a journalist and have never claimed to be. This was a story about Jeff Beal and his journey, opinions and music. The Huffington Post may have rejected it for many reasons, but erroneous report from a blogger I doubt was one of them.

      CCSVI is controversial, to be sure. It is not totally proven scientifically. However, there have always been patients, with various illnesses, who have found success with medications or procedures that were unproven. If they work for that patient, with no deleterious affects, isn’t that a good thing? I don’t walk in anyone’s shoes, and I don’t have progressive MS, so I’m not going to question if someone has had success with something that works them. I am happy for Jeff Beal.

      No one ever said MS prevents someone for being a good father. Jeff felt his life “slipping away” because his MS wasn’t allowing him to play ball, run around with his kids, etc. He was and is the same person despite MS. I felt the same way. I am a good mother, but I want to run around with my son. Many parents with MS feel that way. I am sorry if you misinterpreted what I wrote.

      I have had MS for 26 years. I am a writer and a health advocate. I know full well that we each have MS differently and we all react to medications differently. I was diagnosed before any FDA approved medications and before the Internet. I completely understand what I am saying with regard to MS, and writing about it is my way of paying it forward for the kindnesses and generosity I found when I was diagnosed.

      I also know full well that MS is not terminal. No one dies from it. People may get complications from it and pass away from it (like Annette Funicello). I write about this all of the time.

      This story was about one person. One single person. I loved Jeff’s music, and his story about taking a chance on something that worked for him. It is not telling people to run out and get CCSVI. It is ONE story, that is all. Like a mini bio. People have to be their own advocate, do their own research, and make informed decisions for themselves. Always.

      I take exception to your line, “your article a little mawkish. Unproven medical procedures reported as miracle cures are bad science reported by bad journalism.” That was most unkind. I said up front CCSVI is not FDA approved, and is controversial. Bad journalism? Again, I am not a journalist but a blogger. I am writing a STORY about one person. I never said this was a miracle cure, not even by inference. I left three links at the end of my post, with 3 differing points of view, for further information for people to do their own research about CCSVI.

      I appreciate all points of view, and accept them as they come. CCSVI is a hot button issue, and I’m sure will be discussed for a long time. That said, I enjoy having constructive discussions and criticisms about what I write, and always hope that readers stick to opinions about issues and not accusations directed at the author.

      Thank you.
      Cathy Chester

  16. Pat Sheffer

    Cathy…..thank you for your article. It was very inpiring and gives hope to those with MS and to those with other health issues. I don’t think it’s to controversial at all. It just goes to show that there are treatments out there that need to be researched more so that they can be available to the masses. Please do not take to heart comments from those individuals that like to split hairs, they speak for themselves. Jeff Beal was able to continue living his life, being able to be the husband and father he wanted to be. In his eyes, a good husband and father. Most readers understand what you meant. Keep up the good work Cathy!

    1. Post author

      Thanks, Pat. Thanks so much. Your words comforted me and lifted my spirits. I agree wholeheartedly with all that you said.

      I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog, and leaving such thoughtful sentiments for me.

      Best to you always~

    1. Post author

      Thanks, Darlene,

      Yes, it needs further studies. A few studies coming out say it’s not effective and not barking up the right tree. So the MS community is up in arms, with people believing and not believing in CCSVI pitted against one another. And it’s going to get uglier.

      I guess that’s what happens when you are dealing with an unpredictable illness that has no cure, and many don’t benefit from the already FDA approved medications.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. They are truly appreciated.

  17. apleasanthouse

    What do I think? I think that at one time the most educated people on the planet thought the Earth was flat. Turns out they were wrong. Now for what I think about you Ms. Chester- awesomesauce, that all. Just plain old fashioned AWESOME. You’re my hero. PS: I love the opening music for Boardwalk Empire- and House of Cards.

    1. Post author

      Awesomesauce? You always make me laugh, Cheryl. I think you should do stand up, and I’ll be in the front row!

      Thank you again for your comments. You always lift my spirits, and make me believe that what I write matters to someone else. Nice to know the ol’ blank page fills up with something useful, eh?

      I can’t wait for the next season of “House of Cards”, can you? All of that deceit, cunningness, murder and mayhem. Ah, ain’t Washington wonderful?

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mrs. Co-Awesomesauce,

  18. Sandra Sallin

    Cathy thank you making me aware of Jeff as a composer. I love the show “House of Cards.” Now i will enjoy the music more because I feel I know that composer. As to his chossing to have a controversial procedure. That’s non of my business. He has to do what right for himself and his family. I hope it works and lights up a diferent path for treatment. I applaud him.

    1. Post author


      You are more than welcome! I am so glad you enjoy Jeff’s music and now you’ll enjoy it even more.

      I totally agree with you. It’s not our business if some controversial medication works for someone. It’s their body, their decision.

      Thank you for your kind words of hope, and for sharing your comments on my blog.


  19. D. A. Wolf

    I also love his music and am happy to know he’s doing better. And bravo to his wife as well! You’re so right that we must increasingly advocate for ourselves… And keep talking and learning from each other.

    Thank you for telling Jeff’s story.

    1. Post author


      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am so glad to read of your happiness over Jeff’s wellness, and the courage his wife showed despite adversity. Bravo to them!

      As we age we will have to advocate for ourselves more and more. It’s important, so we may as well start to learn how now!

      Thanks so much; it is greatly appreciated.


  20. Lisa Garon Froman

    First off, I loved the show Monk! The music was great, wasn’t it? I for one think it’s wonderful he found some relief and healing. There are so many healing modalities and procedures that are not covered by insurance or “approved.” But I believe we need to be our own advocates when it comes to our health. Most of us have our own internal wisdom and we should let it guide us.

    1. Post author

      Yes, we loved MONK and own all of the seasons on DVD. I agree with all you said wholeheartedly.

      Thanks so much, my friend, for sharing your thoughts.


  21. Pingback: I Am Back….With a Fantastic Guest Post – Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) : BBHwithMS

    1. Post author

      Thank you for the shout out to my blog! I am very excited to be your guest blogger on behalf of Healthline. They are a fabulous website chocked full of good information.

      I love your blog and I thank you for the honor of posting on it on behalf of Healthline.

      Best to you always~

  22. Sharon Richardson, President

    Thank you Cathy for linking to CCSVI Alliance’s website. The Beal’s have been an integral part of the organization. Joan is a founding and current board member and Jeff’s patient story is shared on this video For your readers who are interested in the latest research connecting vascular disease patterns to neurological symptoms, please visit our research database with over 200 peer reviewed studies and articles (both positive and negative)

    1. Post author

      Thank you for the information about CCSVI and the Beal’s involvement with it, Sharon. I like spreading the word about any medication or procedure that will help people with MS take one more step toward wellness. I hope my readers will check out the information you provided about CCSVI and the Alliance.

      Best to you, and thank you for the work you do.

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