Bravo to Selma Blair and Her Cane for Appearing at the Oscars

Bravo to Selma Blair and Her Cane for Appearing at the Oscars

Over the past few months, I’ve had a few things to say about actress Selma Blair and the very public way in which she’s been handling her MS diagnosis.

When Blair went public with her MS last October, she did it on Instagram, writing, “I am disabled. 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.” At the time, I wrote that I liked her brutal honesty and her “I have MS and I’m OK” attitude.

Since then, Blair has posted many more times on Instagram. Some of the posts have included pictures of her standing or walking with a cane. All of her Instagram posts have had a pretty good audience, with 20,000-40,000 “likes” for most of the cane shots and a little over 100,000 for her initial post about MS.

But last Sunday night was special. Selma Blair and her cane walked along the red carpet at the Oscars. It was a prime-time look at someone with MS, walking right into your living room.

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As their cameras clicked, and the photographers lined up along the red carpet shouted, “Selma, look up top” and “Selma, look over the left shoulder,” it appeared as if Blair was a little worried about her balance. Posing for the paparazzi, once likely easy and second nature for her, seemed to have created a little concern. The photographers might not have seen that Blair seemed worried about her balance, but looking at the video, anyone with MS will.

After her initial disclosure in October, I wrote about Blair a second time. That time, however, she’d posted something on Instagram that was less positive than her initial post. “Going out, being sociable holds a heavy price. My brain is on fire. I am freezing. We feel alone with it. … I choke with the pain of what I have lost and what I dare hope for,” she wrote.

I was also less positive. I questioned whether we, who live with MS, want to publicly identify ourselves as “heartbroken, always struggling, and ‘choking’ over our loss?” I asked the people who read my columns what they thought. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that they supported Blair’s public honesty — whether it was positive or negative.

If a photo is worth a thousand words, then the video of Blair and her cane, as she slowly made her way along the red carpet at the Oscars, is worth a million. It shows pain and persistence. Caution and class. It shows what many of us have to handle each day. And Selma Blair showed an audience of millions how to do it. Bravo!

(Screenshot of @selmablair/Instagram)

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Ed Tobias is a retired broadcast journalist. Most of his 40+ year career was spent as a manager with the Associated Press in Washington, DC. Tobias was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1980 but he continued to work, full-time, meeting interesting people and traveling to interesting places, until retiring at the end of 2012.
Ed Tobias is a retired broadcast journalist. Most of his 40+ year career was spent as a manager with the Associated Press in Washington, DC. Tobias was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1980 but he continued to work, full-time, meeting interesting people and traveling to interesting places, until retiring at the end of 2012.

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  1. Pik says:

    Watched Selma video. I have a nice derby cane like that cut to fit from “FASHIONABLE CANES”. I said” don’t let her fall”, with all the camera rats shouting turn,look up, square up.I could see how bad her balance was,knowing mine is poor.She teared up,so did I,because we know how hard it is to do things. Paparazzi should educate themselves on what MS is about. If I was there,I may have flipped out on them,asking her to do all poses.

    • As a retired sports photographer and journalist – retired with MS – I totally agree about paparazzi educating themselves about MS. A tall order, I fear. I saw their insensitivity when they were willing to push their way past their ‘lowly’ sports colleagues to get a shot of a royal celebrity at any cost. Watching that video, I also wondered at their inability to get a perfect shot with motor drives and multiple attempts. I had one shot per competitor.

    • Ed Tobias says:


      I hear what you’re saying. I spent more than 40 years in the news media. Most of the photogs that I worked with were top-notch, professional men and women. But too many of them were freelancers and many of them were in Hollywood. They only made money when they sold “the shot” to a customer…frequently a “People”-style magazine. That’s the way they call out to all of the celebs they’re trying to capture in their lens. Before her MS, I suspect that Blair was glad to oblige them with poses. Isn’t that part of the deal when you’re a celeb?


  2. Penny Pennington says:

    Agree with all of points made re Selma Blair’s brave disclosures but wish that she wasn’t wearing “spiked” heels while walking with her cane during part of the interview with Robin Roberts! There are many alternative footwear options that are still glamorous and much safer, even for women without mobility challenges!

    • Ed Tobias says:


      And I worried about her tripping over the long dress that she was wearing at the Oscars. But, even as a guy with a dragging left foot, I used to wear shoes that looked better than they worked. (That ended when I retired)!


    • Jana Morgan says:

      I agree totally as those shoes look silly so someone with walking challenges! She would have been much more stable wearing flat shoes! I don’t even attempt any like those!

  3. Keith Layton says:

    That’s the way it goes. One minute you bear up to the “MS challenge” and the next your writhing and vulnerable to the “Struggles of MS”. She represents the reality of those extremes. It is just plain honest.

  4. Carla L Broadbent Rogers says:

    OK, let me just say, ALL of us with MS are BRAVE. We do not have hair and makeup people or a public forum to speak from. I have had MS since 1993. It took 5 years to figure out what was wrong. For me, I am sad to hear of another person who has MS. IT IS A BITCH. Maybe this may fall on ears and something may get pushed in the right direction to help those of us with Ms more. Be well.

  5. Barry says:

    I got diagnosed with MS 2017, father of 3 and i can understand what she id going through as im going through it as well, i would like to please people not to mention positivity but to act positively towards hope of finding the cure of it, we MS people are robbed off from our life while being alive, please support and enforce the philantropists such as gates, bezzos, and other intellectually capable people to create funds to find ms source, it is curable and it is resolvable problem, i recommend 3 groups of scientists that are required be created, Neurologists, ComputerScientist (AI support), Nutritionists.

  6. Anita says:

    Wow. I have all sorts of emotions running through my mind right now. I was on pins and needles watching her trying to navigate and oblige photographers. I felt they were insensitive. And I felt for her when she began tearing up. For me, that was a tough moment. I admire her for going to the Oscars. She puts herself out there and she is doing wonders for the cause. I also respect and understand her honesty when she posts on Instagram. As we know, MS is no picnic. I send her strength, courage and love.

  7. Sue Pierson says:

    Selma Blair was pure beauty and elegance at the Oscars, which is difficult to pull off with MS spasticity. In comparison, it takes me 3 hours to get dressed in a basic sweater and long skirt with sensible shoes. My MS, however, has had more time to ravage my body. Initially diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis (C3-C7) in 2006 with a recurrence (T7&T8) in 2010 it was determined in 2017 to be secondary progressive MS when the single brain lesion unchanged since 2006 was now six brain lesions. I’ve been a wheelchair dependent paraplegic since 2010. I have the indwelling abdominal trifecta; Baclofen Pump, suprapubic urinary catheter and colostomy. The scary part of progressive for me is losing function in my hands. My dominant right hand is getting pretty close to useless. So those 3 hours of getting ready don’t include applying any makeup. They also don’t include a shower. I fought it as long as I could, but a year ago I had no choice but to surrender to the assistance of a patient aide for my showers. Thankfully my patient aide is awesome. She has to use a lift to transfer me into and out of the shower because I can’t safely transfer myself when there’s an uphill height difference in seats. She also has to shampoo my hair, wash my back, lower legs & feet as my core is unsteady when not supported. The shower process takes a little over an hour, twice a week.

    I live by myself except for when my daughter is home on long college breaks. I’m still able to drive my adapted van (Thank God!). I had to give up my career as a registered nurse in 2011. Looking back to 2006 my symptoms were similar to Selma’s with the exception of her vocal dystonia. My only words of advice are to keep moving as long as you can, even if that means just standing. Do it! Most importantly keep a sense of humor! You’ll need it to recover from those moments when MS serves you yet one more indignity, loss or struggle.

    • Ed Tobias says:

      Hi Sue,

      Thanks for taking the time to share all of that. There are so many faces of MS and, as you so expertly detail, for many of us its face can change several times.

      I think you’ll agree, however, that rather than hiding from the storm it’s better to learn to dance in the rain. So, move what you can and keep dancing.



    • Jana Morgan says:

      Brilliantly written Sue and hope all goes well for you. Wish you the best in the struggle that we all call MS life!

  8. Sue Pierson says:

    Thanks for your feedback Ed.
    I’ve always loved that saying and whole heartily agree. I’m new to this site but am already a fan of your columns. I appreciate your insights on MS topics and the fact you encourage your readers to share their perspectives.
    All the best to you.

    • Ed Tobias says:

      Thank you so much, Sue.

      Sometimes it can be tough to write (see my column “I’m to Tired to Write Tonight”) but a note like yours makes it a whole lot easier!


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