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11 Celebrities You Didn't Know Were Living With Multiple Sclerosis

Christine Applegate and Selma Blair aren't the only ones.

jamie lynn sigler, selma blair, and christina applegate

Christina Applegate. Selma Blair. Jack Osbourne. In addition to their fame, these celebrities all share something else in common: They've been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

MS impacts the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves, which together make up the central nervous system and controls everything we do, according to The National MS Society. One of the most challenging things about the disease is that it looks very different in each patient. Symptoms can range from numbness and tingling to mood changes, and even blindness, the society reports.

In fact, while more than 2.1 million people struggle with MS, a diagnosis can still take years, or in some cases, even decades, to pin down—something many celebrities with MS have spoken candidly about over the years. And, there is still no “cure” or universal treatment plan for the disease.

While little is definitively known about what causes this autoimmune disorder, researchers have noticed patterns among the afflicted. MS is most common in areas farthest from the equator and is actually three times more common in women than in men, the society shares. White people are more likely to be affected, though cases have been reported across all races. MS is typically diagnosed between the ages of 20 to 50.

While an MS diagnosis is no doubt daunting, new medications and treatments mean that many people with the disease can lead successful and fulfilling lives—as each of these celebrities has proven.

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1
Christina Applegate
christina applegate at the 26th annual screen actors guild awards
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Christina, 50, shocked fans in August 2021 when she posted a tweet sharing her MS diagnosis.

The Dead To Me actress announced the news in a tweet reading, “Hi friends. A few months ago I was diagnosed with MS. It’s been a strange journey. But I have been so supported by people that I know who also have this condition. It’s been a tough road. But as we all know, the road keeps going. Unless some asshole blocks it.”

Christina also shared that she uses rowing to help with her health, tweeting, "With MS, most exercises can be scary due to numbness in feet and legs. So sitting and knowing I'm still using my body is awesome."

During a Twitter Q & A with her fans, Christina was asked what her goals for 2022 are, and shared, "Cure for MS maybe?????"

2
Selma Blair
selma blair at the hollywood reporter's women in entertainment gala
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When Selma, 50, first began to experience mysterious symptoms— fevers, urinary tract infections, nerve pain, numbness, and depression, she wasn’t sure what was going on. She tried to lessen the pain with alcohol, she wrote in an excerpt of her May 2022 memoir Mean Baby shared on The Guardian. In 2008, Selma started noticing the numbness in her legs worsening when she fell walking down a hill with her horse.

“The ground just slipped out from under me,” the Cruel Intentions actress wrote. In August 2018, after a troubling trip to Miami where she couldn’t move her legs after jumping into the ocean, Selma sought help. She posted on Instagram, saying “So, I am in pretty intense pain. Whiplash a few times on my horse and sitting on planes … and now I am in a real musculoskeletal bind. Hanging in though. Hoping I can rehab it and get back to riding and writing again soon. #chronicpain is a real challenge. Love to all of us.”

Selma’s friend, actress Elizabeth Berkley saw the message, which set off alarm bells. She connected Selma with her brother who is a spinal neurologist, Selma wrote in her memoir. Selma describes her moment of diagnosis as a catharsis, especially after years of being doubted.

“I felt an adrenaline rush of emotion. It felt like giving birth. The release of it. The catharsis of it. But more than anything, I was overwhelmed by a sense of relief, like the way you feel when an ocean wave breaks right at the shore before taking you under. For years, my symptoms were dismissed as ‘anxiety’ and ‘emotional.’...And now I had a map to follow. I had information. A label. This time, one that fit,” she wrote.

Selma says she was told by industry professionals to not disclose her diagnosis for risk of missing out on parts. But she bucked tradition and went public in October 2018.

Selma stepped out for one of her first appearances post-reveal in April 2019 and made a big splash at the Vanity Fair Oscar party. She wrote high heels, a colorful Ralph & Russo dress with a cape and a choker around her neck, and her hair slicked back. She also brought a cane. “I felt cocooned in this dress. Protected...I’ve never felt more beautiful,” she said in her memoir.

Now, Selma continues to work as much as she can and is an advocate for research into the disease. And, she hopes in speaking out that other people will get diagnosed sooner than she did.

“When I announced my diagnosis to the outside world it seemed as if ‘it hit so hard, so fast.’” Selma also wrote in her memoir, per The Guardian. “But they didn’t see the constant fatigue or the years of inflammation or the signs that presented themselves all along. I’d gone through a lifetime of knowing. The only thing that changed was that I was given a name for it.”

3
Teri Garr
teri garr at the hollywood show
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Teri Garr, is known for her roles in Tootsie, Mr. Mom, Young Frankenstein, and more recently, as Phoebe’s kooky mom on Friends. The quick-witted star announced she had been diagnosed with MS in 2002 on The Larry King Show and said the symptoms began affecting her performances in the 1990s.

Teri, 77, told Brain and Life in 2005 that she began noticing pain as early as 1983.

"I'd notice that the more I ran and got my body heated up, the weaker I'd get. But then it'd go away, and it went away for about 10 years. And then it started up again, and I started getting stabbing pains in my arm when I ran,” Teri told the publication. True to form, the actress joked, “But I figured hey, I'm in Central Park, maybe I am being stabbed."

Teri, who is cited as a creative influence to The Office’s Jenna Fischer and SNL’s Tina Fey, says she uses her sense of humor to get by. In a 2017 interview with The World, she said she makes time to laugh every day.

Teri retired from acting in 2007 and has since worked as a National Ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and National Chair for the Society's Women Against MS program.

Her biggest advice, besides advocating for yourself with doctors, is to maintain a positive attitude. "For me, it was immediately, 'Look at the trees, look at life, look at how wonderful it all is.' My opinion is that that's the best way to go," Teri told Brain and Life. "Another way to react is, 'I'm struck, I'm hit, I'm down, I'm out, it's over.”

She added: "I've always been a feisty person. If you hit me in the jaw, I'm like, 'Come back here!!' I've always been a fighter."

4
Ann Romney
ann romney giving a speech at a romney for utah event
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Ann, an author, philanthropist, and the wife of U.S. Senator Mitt Romney, was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis in 1998. This type of MS can flare up, and then go away unpredictably, according to Healthline. Ann first noticed something was off when she began tripping and felt her legs become weak. Ann was always athletic, and played tennis, skied, and jogged regularly so she was concerned.

An MRI revealed her MS. “I felt I was being eaten away,” she told The Wall Street Journal, per CBS News. Ann began taking steroids but dealt with extreme fatigue. That’s when she rediscovered her love of horses and equine therapy.

“The rhythm of a horse’s gait closely assimilates a human’s and moves the rider’s body in a fashion that enhances muscle strength, balance, and flexibility,” she wrote in a piece published on Mitt Romney’s onetime presidential campaign website. “The connection both physical and emotional among horse and human is powerful beyond explanation.”

Ann also established a Boston research center which seeks to find treatments and preventative measures for complex neurological diseases like MS, Alzheimer's disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson's disease, and brain tumors. The Ann Romney Center for Neurological Diseases is located in Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where Ann first received her diagnosis more than 20 years ago.

5
Jack Osbourne
jack osbourne at the 26th annual race to erase ms gala
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Reality star Jack Osbourne has been in the spotlight for 20 years ever since his famous family hit screens with their show The Osbournes. But the dad and television host shared some serious news in 2012.

After seeing a doctor for an inflamed optic nerve, Jack was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Before his eyes began to bother him, he was experiencing pinching and numbness in his legs for three months, he told Healthline.

“I ignored the pinching in my leg because I thought I just pinched a nerve,” he told the publication. “Even when I got diagnosed, I thought, ‘Aren’t I too young to get this?’ Now, I know the average age of diagnosis is between 20 and 40.”

Jack has shared that he didn’t know much about MS when he was diagnosed, and he is working to change that with his web show You Don’t Know Jack About MS.

“When the doctors told me, ‘I think you have MS’, I kind of freaked out and thought: ‘The game is over.’ But that may have been the case 20 years ago. It’s just not the case anymore,” he told Healthline.

He hopes to inspire others and let everyone know that you can live a great life with MS.

6
Trevor Bayne
trevor bayne at the nascar xfinity series crayon 200
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The NASCAR 2011 Daytona 500 winner was diagnosed with MS in 2013 when he was 22, after experiencing some health issues on and off the track, according to USA Today.

He experienced numbness in his arm during a race, and Trevor had symptoms of blurred vision, nausea, and fatigue. Doctors first thought he had Lyme disease but learned he had MS a few weeks after winning at Iowa Speedway that year.

"There are a lot more people in our community and in our world that can relate to somebody who is going through hard times and somebody who is winning races, who is winning championships, who has won the Daytona 500, who looks like he has it all together," he told USA Today. "It looks like everything is going great, but how many people can relate to that? So, for me, going through something hard, that shows our true character."

Trevor still races, and is teasing a big comeback for the 2023 season, according to On The Flag.

7
Tamia Hill
tamia hill at célébrez en rosé
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The six-time Grammy award winner best known for her hits like Missing You and So Into You was diagnosed with MS in 2003. Tamia was in North Carolina with her husband when she noticed numbness in her legs, but she assumed she pulled a muscle, she told Jet in 2005.

“Whatever I can do to help create the awareness. I’ve learned that getting an early diagnosis is key. You know your body. You know when something isn’t right. Be a pest—keep going to the doctor and keep saying ‘Hey, this isn’t right,’” she told the magazine.

Tamia told Oprah.com that she encourages others to be in tune with their body and not to ignore the “little whispers” that something could be wrong.

8
Noah '40' Shebib
noah '40' shebib at variety's 2nd annual hitmakers brunch
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Noah Shebib, who is best known as "40," is a Canadian record producer, and a frequent collaborator of Drake’s. In fact, he is one-third of the OVO Sound record label, which has won him two Grammy Awards. He has also worked with Lil Wayne, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Action Bronson, and Jamie Foxx.

He was diagnosed with MS when he was just 22, and his mother was diagnosed two years later. Noah’s mother, Tedde Moore, is also in show business and played the teacher in Christmas Story.

“MS has made me a stronger person and motivated me to find success despite it,” Noah told The National MS Society. He also told the website that playing the piano has helped him keep his motor skills sharp. “I’ve played the piano since I’ve been three, and it’s a really important part of my life.”

9
Jamie-Lynn Sigler
jamie lynn sigler at watch what happens live with andy cohen
BravoGetty Images

The actress, perhaps best known for her role as Meadow on The Sopranos, was diagnosed with MS when she was just getting her start on the show in 2002.

Jamie told Brain and Life that she noticed symptoms worsening after walking to her New York City apartment after set on a busy day of filming and feeling heaviness and tingling in her legs. She'd first experienced this symptom two years earlier, but was misdiagnosed with Lyme disease at the time. Jamie continued to work on the show, but had to take breaks between takes to recharge.

Jamie kept her diagnosis a secret until 2016 when she gave birth to her son. “I didn't want to ask my son in the future to help keep my disease a secret,” she told the outlet.

Jamie added: "I think I made my life harder by not letting people in. When I got to a place where I could be honest with others and feel more comfortable asking for help, life got easier."

Jamie’s symptoms have been somewhat stable for the last few years, she has said in various interviews and on her podcast. Sticking to a routine of Spin classes and Pilates helps her maintain strength, and also keeps her going in her acting in shows like Big Sky.

She is close with Selma Blair, and the two do work toward MS awareness together.

“You teach me so many things. I’m so lucky to know you. We are unlucky in some of the things we share, BUT, like we said last night, MS may have hardened our bodies, but it’s softened our hearts. We view life through different eyes at times, and we get to SEE and appreciate the beauty in everyone,” Jamie wrote on Instagram.

10
Montel Williams
montel williams at the 89th annual hollywood christmas parade supporting marine toys for tots
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The iconic television host was diagnosed with MS about 20 years ago, but said his symptoms started far before that. This is part of the reason Montel has made fighting the disease his life’s mission, he told Multiple Sclerosis News Today.

In fact, he shared during an appearance in 2020 that he first went blind in his left eye for seven months while he was in the U.S. Naval Academy in 1980. His eyesight, and later a burning sensation in his legs, worsened over the years, leading to his eventual diagnosis in the late 1990s.

“I’m blessed by the fact that I’m on six different treatment regimens,” he shared. “I’m on Western medication, and also on a holistic treatment protocol that includes changes in my diet, exercise, and mindfulness.”

Montel says he does at least 20 to 30 minutes of walking every day, as well as elliptical training, balance exercises, TRX, and resistance training to build muscle as well.

“The one thing we can all do is try to live down to other people’s expectations, but live up to our own—by truly understanding the definition of who we are,” he said.

11
John King
cnn correspondant john king talks to the camera
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CNN’s John King announced his MS diagnosis somewhat by surprise during a live newscast in 2021 during the COVID 19 pandemic.

“I am immunocompromised,” he told viewers in an unplanned anecdote, adding that he was glad his employer was mandating vaccines so he and others like him could feel safe in the workplace.

“I don’t like the government telling me what to do, I don’t like my boss telling me what to do, but in this case it’s important,” he said.

In an interview with Good Morning America, the Chief National Correspondent revealed he had been diagnosed with MS 13 years prior. When told it looks like he had “not missed a bit” by host George Stephanopoulos, John was candid. “I’m glad it looks that way, but there are times where it is very frustrating.”

He shared that he hasn’t had full sensation in his legs since the Clinton administration.

“There are some days this knocks me on my you-know-what. There are some days it’s just a little nagging," he said. "But I am lucky...it has made me stronger, and it has made me a better person.”

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