Removing Shame From Chronic Disease
- This week, actress Selma Blair, 50, won a People’s Choice Award for her work on Dancing with the Stars, and she attended the awards ceremony using her cane, which supports her as she experiences symptoms from Multiple sclerosis (MS).
- MS is a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of the body’s nerves; Blair has used chemotherapy to treat it.
- Coping with a chronic illness is an ongoing process; therapy and counselors can help to provide professional emotional support during the challenging transition period from diagnosis to treatment.
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Blair told the audience, “Oh my gosh, the last time I won an award was when I kissed you, Sarah,” she said of their kiss in 2000 at the MTV Movie Awards for “Best Kiss” award for Cruel Intentions.
“Good luck charm, for sure!” she said of her friend, continuing, “Really, thank you to Sarah for being here for everything, that means something to me. This is kinda a huge deal for me, I’ve been in this town a long time and I have so many amazing friends that win things like this.”
Blair said that winning the award for her work on the popular competition show was “amazing,” saying, “I can’t believe the people gave me something after giving me so much after the last few years of learning how to connect and be supported by people,” she gushed. “Thank you to Sasha [Farber] for being my partner and finding a way to help me move.”
“…to think [just] three or four years ago, I was pushing her around in a wheelchair and now she’s dancing on national television…” – Sarah Michelle Gellar on her bff, MS fighter Selma Blair
Blair beamed with light and joy; she is such an inspiration for others diagnosed with MS. In an earlier interview, her best friend Gellar recalled Blair’s early experiences with her condition.
“Every journey with Selma is its own experience and its own milestone,” said Gellar, “and to think three or four years ago, I was pushing her around in a wheelchair and now she’s dancing on national television, its really mind-blowing,” she shared. “She’s my inspiration for trying new things.”
Blair’s Multiple Sclerosis Battle
Blair was diagnosed with MS in 2018. This disease causes the immune system to eat away at the protective covering of the body’s nerves. MS disrupts communication between the brain and the body.
Symptoms of the disease can include vision loss, pain, fatigue, and impaired coordination. Blair uses her cane to support her through the effects of MS.
Following her diagnosis, Blair took to Instagram to share the news with fans and followers. In a 2018 post discussing her illness, she wrote candidly: “I have multiple sclerosis. I am in an exacerbation…I am disabled…”
She wrote to fans, “…I fall sometimes. I drop things. My memory is foggy. And my left side is asking for directions from a broken gps. But we are doing it. And I laugh and I don’t know exactly what I will do precisely but I will do my best. Since my diagnosis at ten thirty pm on The night of August 16, I have had love and support from my friends…”
Blair has used chemotherapy, a common treatment for cancer, to treat her MS. Signs and symptoms of MS can vary widely; the Mayo Clinic says these symptoms 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
Blair is an awesome example of someone who embraces the reality of life with a health challenge. She’s open and candid about her journey with MS, as well as her need for additional support and tools throughout it. Blair has been pictured on various red carpets using her cane proudly.
People facing a health issue like MS or like cancer may require support tools, like a cane, or a wig to cope with hair loss from cancer treatments. There’s nothing shameful about needed support through a health battle, or otherwise.
Speak with your doctor or an oncological social worker about tools that may be available to you to help make your journey easier. You’re not alone in your battle, and there’s likely a way to mitigate some of the experiences and make them less difficult – whether it’s a cane for support or a wig for thinning hair from treatment.
‘Cruel Intentions’ Star Selma Blair, 50, Rehearses For ‘Dancing With The Stars’ While Living With Multiple Sclerosis ‘We Do These Things We Want To Find Joy In’
Coping with a Chronic Illness
Coping with a chronic illness, such as Blair’s MS, is an ongoing journey. SurvivorNetTV’s Defying All Odds shows that journey, with Dr. Terry Wahls at the helm.
The world-renowned doctor and scientist documented her powerful story from diagnosis to recovery as she moved through Multiple sclerosis. Dr. Wahls was determined to continue practicing medicine – much like Blair continued performing – even after her diagnosis. Dr. Wahls – like Blair, with her can – relies on support tools for her condition. She uses a wheelchair.
Dr. Wahls also made significant changes to her lifestyle, like practicing a paleo diet consisting mainly of grass-fed meat, fish, leafy and root vegetables, and nuts. After opting for her paleo diet, the doctor saw some improvements in her condition.
Blair’s and Dr. Wahls’ stories of success amid a challenging chronic illness is a testament to how it is possible to overcome obstacles even if the odds are stacked against us.