Ann Romney's Battle With Disease
- Ann Romney, the wife of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was diagnosed with stage zero breast cancer, otherwise known as Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS), in 2009 and relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis in 1988.
- The 74-year-old philanthropist has come a long way since her diagnoses as she’s not only a best-selling author, but she’s also the founder of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases.
- Stage zero breast cancer refers to DCIS otherwise known as Ductal Carcinoma In Situ. DCIS are abnormal cells that line the duct in a breast. A normal breast is made up of lots of ducts (these ducts carry milk to the nipple in a woman who is lactating).
- According to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, most people experience their first symptoms of MS between the ages of 15 and 50, and the number of women diagnosed is more than men.
- “Nearly one million individuals are living with MS in the United States. This new prevalence figure was published in 2019 and is more than double the previous estimate of 400,000 affected people in the United States,” the association explains.
The loving wife, mother of five boys, and grandmother of 25, has come a long way since her breast cancer diagnosis in 2009 and her MS diagnosis in 1988as not only is she a best-selling author, but she’s also the founder of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases.Read More
In another photo, Romney was seen smiling and showing off her conservative gown and her blonde short hair near the White House’s bordering garden.
During the event, which took place on April 26, 2023, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden hosted President Yoon Suk Yeol of the Republic of Korea and Mrs. Kim Keon Hee, First Lady of the Republic of Korea, for a State Dinner.
That same month, Romney and her husband were happily pictured during an Evening on Antique Row in West Palm Beach.
The Palm Beach Post shared a lovely photo of the couple, who married on March 21, 1969, at the block party event, which was hosted by The Young Friends of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
Months earlier, Romney’s husband also shared a heartwarming group photo of their large family, including their children and grandchildren, on Christmas.
The post, which pictured the 37 family members, was captioned, “Merry Christmas from our family to yours!”
Romney has definitely been keeping busy as back in 2014, she and her husband launched The Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
According to the center’s web site, “The Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases is a collaborative global pursuit to accelerate treatments, prevention, and cures for five of the world's most complex neurologic diseases: multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), Parkinson’s disease, and brain tumors.
“The collaborative nature of the Ann Romney Center allows Brigham and Women’s Hospital to partner with the medical and scientific communities worldwide in pursuit of the highest level of care while promoting discovery and accelerating the translation of scientific findings into clinical practice.”
The MS warrior, who has taken steroids to control her relapse, took to Twitter in 2019 to explain how she’s traveled across the country to “spend time with some of the over 50 million people living with neurologic disease.”
“Their stories inspire me to continue to advance awareness and public understanding of all neurologic diseases.”
Over the past several years, I've had the opportunity to travel the country and spend time with some of the over 50 million people living with neurologic disease. Their stories inspire me to continue to advance awareness and public understanding of all neurologic diseases. https://t.co/UxAUkDBeEx
— Ann Romney (@AnnRomney) April 12, 2019
Ann Romney’s Battle With Breast Cancer & MS
Years back, Ann Romney opened up about being diagnosed with stage zero breast cancer in 2009 thanks to early detection. Thankfully, she didn’t need to undergo chemotherapy or radiation.
“I had ductal carcinoma, which is DCIS,” she told America’s Radio News in 2012, according to an ABC News report. “Stage zero, which meant, for me, I had surgery, and I had radiation, but I did not have to do chemo because it was a stage zero. So again, it was early diagnosis that prevented me from having to have chemotherapy.”
Expert Breast Cancer Resources
- Access to Good Information is Crucial After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis
- I Have Stage Zero Breast Cancer: What Should I Do?
- Why Active Surveillance is Being Studied for Stage Zero Breast Cancer
- 6 Common Excuses for Skipping a Mammogram That You Need to Stop Using!
- Surgery or Chemo First? How is Breast Cancer Treatment Order Determined
Recounting about how cancer has affected her loved ones, she said, “I lost my mother from ovarian cancer, I lost my grandmother from ovarian cancer, I lost my great-grandmother from breast cancer, so for me, you know, it’s been a long line of cancer.
“Women that have dealt with cancer in their lives, and I unfortunately saw my grandmother die from ovarian and I took care [of] and loved my mother in her death, with her battle with ovarian cancer. So cancer is a serious business.”
Not only did Romney have a brief battle with breast cancer, but she was diagnosed in 1988 with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a condition described by the Mayo Clinic as a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system).
In another previous interview, with CBS, Romney called her MS and cancer diagnoses “couple of serious health blows.”
“Sometimes you just deal with the cards that are dealt you, and you just go on and you just push forward no matter what you’re living through. We all push forward and that’s the bravery and courage I’ve seen in so many Americans that I’ve seen as I’ve been campaigning across this nation,” she continued, insisting her health battles have made her “more human, more understanding of others going through their own sorrows.”
Romney added, “For me it’s opened my heart up and made me see others in a different light.”
According to Brain and Life, Romney has recounted her MS started with numbness on the right side of her body which she initially suspected to be a pinched nerve. However, when symptoms like “foggy thinking, poor balance, and fatigue” arose she worried it could be something more serious.
After contacting her brother Jim, a doctor, she was advised to get checked by a neurologist, leading to an MRI scan showing she had relapsing-remitting MS.
It wasn’t until she started falling often that her doctor put her on “massive doses of intravenous steroids,” which she credits for saving her. She then went on with disease-modifying treatments.
“I liked his philosophy that the earlier and more aggressively you treat MS, the better chance you have of the disease going into remission,” she said.
Learning About Stage Zero Breast Cancer
Stage zero breast cancer refers to DCIS otherwise known as Ductal Carcinoma In Situ. DCIS are abnormal cells that line the duct in a breast. A normal breast is made up of lots of ducts (these ducts carry milk to the nipple in a woman who is lactating).
DCIS is not an invasive cancer, meaning it hasn't spread outside the milk duct and it cannot invade other parts of the breast. In some instances, if left untreated, doctors believe that DCIS can evolve into a more invasive breast cancer. For this reason, historically, the standard treatment for DCIS is to remove it surgically and in some instances offer radiation as well.
But many doctors aren't sure if even that is necessary for DCIS, because it may or may not turn into cancer. A large study, known as the COMET study, is currently underway looking at the benefit of active surveillance versus standard treatment.
This kind of study will help doctors determine whether doing less may be just as effective as doing more. In the meantime, the options are worth weighing depending on your individual diagnosis and concerns.
Understanding Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system), according to the Mayo Clinic.
It causes the immune system to attack the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers, ultimately leading to communication problems with your brain and the rest of your body.
The disease can eventually result in permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves.
Signs and symptoms of MS can vary greatly but may include:
- Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs that typically occurs on one side of your body at a time, or your legs and trunk
- Electric-shock sensations that occur with certain neck movements, especially bending the neck forward (Lhermitte sign)
- Tremor, lack of coordination or unsteady gait
- Partial or complete loss of vision, usually in one eye at a time, often with pain during eye movement
- Prolonged double vision
- Blurry vision
- Slurred speech
- Tingling or pain in parts of your body
- Problems with sexual, bowel and bladder function
Most people with MS experience periods of new symptoms or relapses followed by quiet periods of disease remission. These relapses can develop over days or weeks and the remission periods can last for months or even years.
According to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, most people experience their first symptoms of MS between the ages of 15 and 50, and the number of women diagnosed is more than men.
“Nearly one million individuals are living with MS in the United States. This new prevalence figure was published in 2019 and is more than double the previous estimate of 400,000 affected people in the United States,” the association explains. ”
Purpose and Support Amid Health Challenges
For MS warriors or anyone battling a disease, finding support through loved ones or people outside the home is key to staying motivated while on your journey.
Sarah Stapleton, clinical social worker at Montefiore Medical Center told SurvivorNet in an earlier interview, “When you're feeling overwhelmed by emotions, social workers can often help direct you to individual counseling, either within the clinic or outside the clinic.”
SurvivorNet TV has a series of videos designed to help motivate and support MS warriors to keep fighting while managing their symptoms.
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff