Living with Multiple Sclerosis
- Montel Williams, 66, has MS. The TV host has been determined to advocate for disease awareness and fight for patient access to medical marijuana.
- Most recently, he became the Media and Cannabis Industry Advisor for an early-stage biotechnology startup focused on personalizing medical cannabis treatment. He says cannabis has helped him manage his MS symptoms better than any other pharmaceutical he’s tried.
- Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system), according to the Mayo Clinic. Most people with MS go through periods of new symptoms or relapses followed by quiet periods of disease remission.
- SurvivorNetTV has added a new block of programming specific to Multiple Sclerosis in order to support people living with this chronic condition. We hope it can be a source of inspiration.
Williams has dealt with MS for most of his life, but he’s found a way, he says, helps alleviate his symptoms with cannabis. There is also data from influential researchers that MS does indeed help with symptom relief for people living with MS.Read More
“It’s helped me manage that and make it more manageable than any other pharmaceutical that I’ve ever used.”
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Most recently, Williams even became the Media and Cannabis Industry Advisor for Cannformatics – an early-stage biotechnology startup focused on personalizing medical cannabis treatment.
As a side note, MS warriors should know that while the National Multiple Sclerosis Society “supports the rights of people with MS to work with their health care provider to access cannabis for medical purposes in accordance with legal regulations,” it also “supports the need for more research to better understand the benefits and potential risks of cannabis and its derivatives as a treatment for MS and its symptoms.”
“There have been numerous studies conducted to evaluate the effects of cannabinoids on MS-related pain, spasticity, and bladder symptoms,” the NMSS website reads. “Most studies involved relatively small numbers of people with MS and the outcome measures varied among studies.
“However, reviews of published studies have generally shown that synthetic cannabinoids favorably impact symptoms of pain and spasticity. Less is known about the impact of inhaled or ingested botanical cannabis on MS symptoms.”
Talk with your doctor if you have MS and would like to learn more about your options for treating your symptoms.
Montel WillIams’ MS Journey
Montel WillIams experienced his first symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis long before he received his diagnosis. In fact, he says it was his required immunizations about four months prior to his graduation from the Naval Academy in 1980 that seemingly triggered his first MS bout.
“I lost 80% vision in my left eye and was put on medical hold on the military because they thought I would be blind in one eye,” he previously told MedicineNet. “My commission was held up when I graduated, because at that moment I was not qualified to become a naval officer.”
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After seeing various doctors, Williams still didn’t have answers for his vision loss.
“No one at the time even speculated MS, because if you look back, this was 1980 and back then, the disease was only associated with Caucasian females of northern European descent, and here I was a 22-year-old African-American male and at that point 100% in great shape,” he said. “MS was the farthest thing from any doctor’s mind.”
Even though his vision had returned, Williams still could not pursue a degree in aviation since his eyesight had deteriorated. Eventually, he became an intelligence officer.
“I continued my career, and over the course of the next 10 years while on active duty, every three or four months I would go back to the doctors because there was something wrong — usually a really weird feeling in my legs or feet,” he said at an event in 2020. “They kept telling me to lose weight and that my back pain would go away.”
Williams’ condition kept declining over the years to the point where his feet felt like they were on fire. It took about 19 years before he was finally diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
“I went to see a doctor, and he told my ex-wife, ‘he looks like he has MS.’ That was on a Friday. On Saturday, he said to me, ‘you have MS,’” he said. “I had no idea what MS was. No one had ever used those words to me before.
“He handed me some literature and said, ‘We don’t usually see this in an African-American male, and it’s the category that does the worst. I expect you to be in a wheelchair in the next four years.’ This doctor had the nerve to tell me this… I almost literally picked him up and threw him out of the room.”
Ever since his diagnosis, William has done everything he can to learn more about his condition and share his experience and knowledge with others.
“Every single one of us who has this disease suffers differently,” he explained. “It was so important to have my family stand with me and help me in those times when I felt my journey was about to end.”
Understanding Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis, or 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 which leads to communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Eventually, MS can cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves.
Signs and symptoms of MS can vary widely 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 go through 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.
Living with Multiple Sclerosis
As a part of our effort to support people with chronic conditions like Multiple Sclerosis, SurvivorNetTV has added a new block of programming specific to MS. It is our hope that these films inspire the nearly 1 million people living with MS in the United States.
RELATED: Check Out SurvivorNetTV’s Multiple Sclerosis Programming
SurvivorNetTV’s film Defying All Odds, for example, follows the story of Dr. Terry Wahls – a world-renowned doctor and scientist determined to continue practicing medicine even after being diagnosed with a severe form of multiple sclerosis (MS).
SurvivorNetTV Presents: Defying All Odds — A World-Renowned Doctor’s Incredible Journey Through MS
Another film, Don’t Stop Me Now, takes a look at MS warrior Louise Carr’s inspiring battle against the disease that causes her daily pain, fatigue, memory loss and restricted movement.
“I might have MS, but it doesn’t have me,” she tells SurvivorNet.
‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ Is Inspiration for Anybody With Multiple Sclerosis
To help with her symptoms, Carr tried switching to a vegan diet, taking on yoga and Zumba classes as well as riding a recumbent bike.
“To my absolute astonishment within a week of becoming vegan my energy levels absolutely shot up,” she said. “It’s changed my life.”
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