Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that impacts the brain and spinal cord. These are the main components of the central nervous system. The central nervous system controls nearly everything we do, from walking to doing a complex math problem.
MS can manifest in many different types of complications. It affects the coverings of nerve endings within the central nervous system. This can result in diminished vision, motor function, tingling, and pain in the extremities.
MS can be a challenging condition, but many people with the disease lead healthy and active lives. Here’s what some celebrities have to say about living with MS.
1. Joan Didion
Joan Didion is an award-winning American author and screenwriter. Known for her vivid descriptions, biting irony, and candor, Didion wrote about her diagnosis in “The White Album.” The essay is from her nonfiction collection “Slouching Toward Bethlehem.” She wrote, “I had … a sharp apprehension of what it was like to open the door to the stranger and find that the stranger did indeed have the knife.”
Didion’s work was a channel for the uncertainties she felt while adjusting to her condition. At 82, Didion is still writing. In 2013, President Obama awarded her the National Medal of Arts and Humanities.
2. Rachel Miner
Rachel Miner is an American actress who is best known for her portrayal of Meg Masters in The CW Network series “Supernatural.”
Miner spoke out about her diagnosis at the Dallas Comic Convention in 2013. She continues to manage her symptoms, but in 2009 had to leave the show due to the physical complications of MS. “The physical constraints were at the point that I feared I couldn’t do Meg or the writing justice,” she told a fan blog.
Although she maintains she didn’t officially leave the show because of the disease, she also asserts the importance of knowing your limits and listening to your body.
3. Jack Osbourne
Jack Osbourne, son of British rock star Ozzy Osbourne, was introduced to American audiences in the early 2000s as a teenager on the MTV reality show about his family. He publicly announced he has multiple sclerosis in 2012.
Since his diagnosis, Osbourne’s motto is “Adapt and Overcome.” He uses the hashtag #Jackshaft on Twitter to talk about his experience with MS. “I will never say that I am thankful for MS,” he said in an open letter. “But I will say that without MS, I don’t know if I would have made the necessary changes in my life that have changed me for the better.”
4. Clay Walker
At age 26, country music star Clay Walker received a diagnosis of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis after experiencing tingling and twitching in his face and extremities. Walker says he struggled after he was first diagnosed: “I realized that I needed to stop dwelling on being diagnosed with a chronic disease, and instead focus on finding a groove.”
He spent some time working with his neurologist. And with the help of his family, he’s settled into a routine that enables him to better manage his symptoms.
Activism is one important component of Walker’s routine. He started Band Against MS, an organization to help educate others with MS.
5. Ann Romney
Ann Romney is the wife of politician Mitt Romney. In her book “In This Together: My Story,” she shared that her life changed in 1997 when she was diagnosed with MS. Since then, she works hard not to let her condition define her.
“Finding joy in your life is another really important component,” she said in an interview with PBS. “And losing yourself in doing something else, and not always dwelling on your illness is very important.”