Celebrities with Multiple Sclerosis: What Can We Learn?
Most people have heard about Multiple Sclerosis (MS), but unless you are affected by the condition, you may not know much about the diagnosis, symptoms, and potential treatments. As of March of last year, researchers estimated the number of Americans diagnosed with MS to be 1 million. Not only that, but women are three times more likely to be diagnosed than men.
With a number that large, even some of our favorite celebrities are among the population living with this disease of the central nervous system. And it can be very helpful to look to the experiences of these celebrities with MS who have decided to share their diagnosis with the public to both raise awareness and learn from them.
Actress Selma Blair had experienced symptoms and flare-ups of MS since the birth of her son in 2011. After grappling with doctors to take her symptoms seriously, Blair was officially diagnosed with the disease in 2018 after they found 20 different MS-related lesions on her brain following an MRI.
She bravely took to Instagram in October of the same year to reveal her diagnosis in an attempt to reach others suffering from MS and educate the public on the realities of the disease. Blair is very open and honest about her struggles with symptoms, citing the feeling of weakness and trouble walking. She also sheds light upon the effects MS has on her mental well-being.
After initial treatments proved ineffective, Blair ultimately decided to undergo chemotherapy to treat her MS. At the age of 47, Selma Blair continues to hold her head high and continue her acting career — all while confidently sporting her cane. Her story showcases the challenging reality of the disease, but also serves as inspiration that it is still possible to live life to the fullest with MS.
Sopranos star Jamie-Lynn Sigler was diagnosed with MS at the young age of 20. However, she waited 16 years to divulge her experience with the disease in January 2016. Sigler didn’t experience severe symptoms of MS early in her diagnosis. In fact, she refers to herself as “silently symptomatic,” as others couldn’t readily see her symptoms and they were quite hard to explain herself.
After years of the disease, Sigler began to experience bladder control issues, spasticity, and trouble walking. However, she refused to let MS quash her zest for life. She went on to create a beautiful family with two children. Through motherhood she realized her strength and resilience.
Sigler kept her MS a secret for the majority of her career, but eventually realized the impact she could make by deciding to go public. She is now an inspiration for others suffering from MS to not let the disease dictate their lives, as she still manages to stay active and raise a family. She also posted a touching message to Selma Blair on Instagram after she went public with her diagnosis, applauding her bravery and emphasizing the need for women to support other women.
Beloved comedic actress Teri Garr began to experience mysterious symptoms in 1983. She first noticed a tingling sensation in her right foot, followed by a stumble while jogging and a painful stabbing feeling in her arm. After multiple doctors failed to diagnose her, she continued managing symptoms on her own as they came and went.
Garr was definitively diagnosed with MS in 1999 and went public with her disease in 2002. She felt an overwhelming relief after receiving a proper diagnosis, but was still apprehensive to divulge her struggles with MS to the public. Garr was worried that agents and producers may judge her and deem her unable to work due to her condition. That, of course, was not the case.
Speaking out about her MS caused an influx of support and the gratifying feeling of helping others by sharing her story. Even going through challenging times, Garr manages to maintain her lively spirit and sense of humor. Her story proves that although openly communicating and overcoming stigma can be intimidating, it can also be incredibly rewarding.
Communicating with patients who are living with chronic illnesses like MS is central to the mission at Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care. When we do so effectively, we can help them live their lives in the fullest way possible. Please call 1-888-564-3405 to learn more about the palliative care programs and services that we offer.
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