Celebrity or Not, You Matter to the MS Community
Christina Applegate, star of classic ’90s films like “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead” and TV shows like “Married with Children,” announced last week that she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 49. She didn’t share much beyond that, only that it’s been “a tough road” since she found out. Production on her current show, “Dead to Me,” has been temporarily paused, and Netflix and CBS Studios released a joint statement saying they support Applegate as she figures out her next steps.
She is one of several celebrities who have gone public with their MS battles, including Jack Osbourne, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Montel Williams, Teri Garr, Temia Hill, and Selma Blair, who did so looking fabulous and sporting a cane on the Oscars red carpet.
I think it’s wonderful that people who already have a platform are being brave and opening up about what life is like when you have multiple sclerosis. Also, when a beloved celebrity takes such a risk, they usually draw a lot of attention (and potential research dollars) to the cause, which is never a bad thing.
However, when something happens to a celebrity, there’s a certain level of removal. These people are famous after all; their names and faces are splashed across movie posters and studio websites. As fans of their work, we love them from a distance and in a way that will likely never be directly reciprocated.
So, while I’m happy to have people like Christina Applegate on the “team,” so to speak, I don’t want people to lose sight of the fact that there are roughly 2.3 million people around the world living with MS. (If like me, you can’t work with numbers that big, let me ground it in reality for you. That’s somewhere between the populations of Chicago and Houston — the third and fourth biggest cities by population in the United States respectively).
This disease doesn’t only impact attractive white women with a few hit movies to their names. It happens to people of all races and nationalities; it affects men as well as women. It doesn’t care if you’re wealthy or poor, whom you voted for, or whom you love. And every single person who is living with this disease is a damned hero in my eyes — a bona fide cape-wearing, evil-bashing hero.
Jenn Powell, a fellow columnist here on this site, wrote in a recent column that, “It takes courage to live with multiple sclerosis. Those of us with this disease are strong. All of us. Even you. Especially you. … You may feel defeat, exhaustion, grief, and loss, and yet you are strong. Your strength is not contingent upon your multiple sclerosis — they are mutually exclusive. Your decision to try again is tenacious. Your ability to remain open is your fortitude. You are enough.”
I couldn’t agree more. Every person who chooses to get up in the morning and fight through whatever challenges come their way is truly strong and outrageously brave. This is certainly true of people like Jenn and her friend Greg Sonn, who recently spoke about life with MS on the podcast hosted by MS News Today.
I’m proud of them for speaking their truths and living boldly. I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of Christina Applegate. I’m proud of you. We’re all doing this together, all pulling in the same direction, none of us more or less valuable than the next person.
I’m not glad that Applegate has multiple sclerosis (I don’t think any of us are), but I’m happy to know she has joined the fight against MS because, like the rest of us do every single day, I know she’ll give it hell.
I wish her all the best as she begins to navigate this strange geography we all know too well. I wish you the best too, beloved. Let’s keep moving.
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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.