Multiple sclerosis doesn’t care who you are or who you know. It is an equal opportunity neurological disease most commonly diagnosed in people in younger adults at a time when career, marriage, family, and friends are the primary focuses for many. Symptoms of MS range from odd sensations, vision problems, and fatigue to muscle weakness, loss of balance, and cognitive difficulties. Many of these symptoms are invisible, so can be hidden to a certain extent which keeps MS a mystery to many. So this is why it is extremely encouraging to see celebrities share their MS diagnosis publicly. Celebrities are able to leverage the media in an effective way to help spread awareness and also inspire others living with the disease.
1. Selma Blair
Selma Blair — television and film actress; diagnosed with MS in August 2018 at age 46; announced her diagnosis in October 2018.
Selma Blair revealed her diagnosis in a post on Instagram, where she talks about the symptoms that make the simple act of getting dressed a challenge. Her announcement was received with a mixture of support from fans, sentiments of camaraderie from other MSers, and recommendations to check out different diets or protocols for MS. Blair is currently starring as Harper Glass in the sci-fi TV series “Another Life” produced for Netflix.
2. Jamie-Lynn Sigler
Jamie-Lynn Sigler — television, film, and theatrical actress; diagnosed with MS in 2001 at age 20; announced the diagnosis in January 2016.
Jamie-Lynn Sigler, probably best known for her role as Meadow Soprano in the HBO series "The Sopranos," waited almost 15 years to publicly reveal her diagnosis which sparked the question at the time — why now? In an interview with People magazine, Sigler said, "I know that there are a lot of other people out there struggling. If I can finally be okay and open and honest that I have this, maybe I can inspire other people to do it, too." By the end of 2016, Sigler signed up with Biogen to participate in their now expired Reimagine MySelf campaign which promoted Tecfidera. Sigler gave birth to her second child in January 2018.
3. Bryan Bickell
Bryan Bickell — retired hockey player; diagnosed with MS in November 2016 at age 30; announced the diagnosis in 2017.
Bryan Bickell played in the National Hockey League from 2006 to 2017 for the Chicago Blackhawks and the Carolina Hurricanes. He announced his retirement from professional hockey in 2017 at the same time he made his diagnosis public. Bickell shifted his attention to his young family and to the Bryan and Amanda Bickell Foundation established in 2012 to rescue, train, and place pit bull dogs into good homes. Bickell partnered with Biogen in 2017 as a spokesperson and to tell his story as part of the Tysabri-related Fighter’s Forum campaign.
4. Jack Osbourne
Jack Osbourne — TV personality; diagnosed with MS in May 2012 at age 26; announced the diagnosis in June 2012.
Jack Osbourne’s diagnosis came shortly after the birth of his first daughter at a time that life seemed be to great with a growing family and active career, he told Hello! magazine. It didn’t take long before Osbourne joined hundreds of MSers in the US who blog about their disease when he teamed up with Teva Neuroscience, makers of Copaxone (glatiramer acetate injection) to launch You Don’t Know Jack About MS®. The website includes basic information about MS, patient resources, and an online documentary series of webisodes featuring Osbourne. Four years after his diagnosis, Osbourne told People magazine, “I will never say that I am thankful for MS, 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. I believe that one day we will all celebrate a cure together, and what a day that will be.” Only three months after the birth of their third daughter in 2018, Jack’s wife, Lisa, filed for divorce.
5. Clay Walker
Clay Walker — platinum country music artist; diagnosed with MS in April 1996 at age 26.
Ernest Clayton Walker, Jr., also known as Clay Walker, was diagnosed with MS three years after his record debut with the single “What’s It To You.” Walker is a frequent guest artist at events sponsored by the National MS Society and other MS organizations such as the Consortium of MS Centers. I met Walker at one such event in 2016. We discussed his early symptoms which involved mobility issues, vision problems, numbness, and difficulty holding his guitar pick, and how his band reacted to his diagnosis. Not being able to perform is any musician’s greatest fear and Walker is still quite active on the stage and the golf course more than 20 years post-diagnosis. In February 2003, Walker partnered with Teva Neuroscience as a spokesperson at the same time his charity, Band Against MS (BAMS), was established. In 2013, BAMS teamed up with Teva to launch the Stick With It campaign to raise awareness and funds for MS research.
6. Tamia Hill
Tamia Hill — musician, R&B vocal performer, Grammy nominated singer-songwriter; diagnosed with MS in 2003 at age 28; announced her diagnosis in 2005.
When Tamia Hill was initially diagnosed with MS, the only people she recognized as having MS were Richard Pryor and Montel Williams. Tamia and her husband, NBA Hall of Fame basketball player Grant Hill, decided to talk openly about MS to help reduce some of the stigma behind the disease. In a 2015 radio interview, Tamia talks about how being diagnosed in the present day would be very much different than 2003. Much more is known about the disease and the number of available treatment options has grown exponentially. One silver lining to having MS, Tamia says, is that it has taught her to find balance in life.
7. David Osmond
David Osmond — musician, songwriter, actor, and producer; diagnosed with MS in 2006 at the age of 26.
David Osmond was no stranger to MS when he was diagnosed as his musician father, Alan Osmond (1949- ), the eldest brother of the famous Osmond family, was diagnosed with primary progressive MS in the mid-1980s. Alan Osmond received the Dorothy Corwin Spirit of Life Award from the National MS Society in 2000 and ten years later, David Osmond also received the “Spirit of Life Award.” In 2014, David teamed up with Novartis Pharmaceuticals, makers of Gilenya, to launch the Our Voice in Song campaign which featured "I Can Do This", a song David composed with the intent to inspire and motivate people with MS to get “serious about actively managing their health.”
See more helpful articles:
Jamie-Lynn Sigler: No Superhero Roles for Me
Bryan Bickell: From Skates to Service Dogs
Your Big Event and MS: Survival Tips