On October 20, Selma Blair made headlines when she revealed that she had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Best known for her roles in films like Hellboy, Legally Blonde, and Cruel Intentions, the actress made the announcement via Instagram, confidently telling her fans, "I have MS and I am okay."
That optimistic message has been expressed by other celebrities with MS. That list includes Jack Osbourne, Richard Pryor, and the award-winning writer Joan Didion, all of whom were (and are) able to lead fulfilling lives in the years following their diagnoses. Some – like Osbourne and Supernatural star Rachel Miner – have become awareness advocates for MS. Others have carried on with their careers. Joan Didion, for instance, has lived with the condition for decades and has continued to write well into her 80s.
For her part, Blair has demonstrated that people with MS are able to thrive, even in a physically demanding profession like acting. She was filming the science fiction series Another Life for Netflix at the time of her announcement, and has likely been living and working with the disease for much of her career. She first started showing symptoms more than 15 years ago, though the cause was misdiagnosed at the time.
That’s not to say that life with MS is easy. Blair has been forthright about her struggles with MS, with symptoms that include memory loss and mobility impairment. Even basic tasks like getting dressed or picking something up off the ground can be difficult.
The equally candid Rachel Miner walked away from acting for similar reasons. In more recent interviews, Miner has explained how acting – especially the physically demanding roles that she used to cherish – gradually lost its appeal once her limitations became more pronounced. She eventually decided to leave the film industry and has since moved on to the next phase of her career as an activist.
“We don’t often think of celebrities as people who suffer the same ills as the rest of the world,” says Wendy Share, Executive Director at Share Lawyers. “But it’s important to recognize that they are human, just like us. And like us, they, too, deal with debilitating conditions that need attention. That these people are willing to make themselves ambassadors so that we can feel less alone is truly generous.”
Public figures like Blair and Miner serve as role models for people with Multiple Sclerosis, standing as real-life examples of people whose accomplishments prove that MS is not a terminal diagnosis.