I’m Tired of Seeing Celebrities with Chronic Diseases Touted as Heroes

Was I supposed to feel bad for Selma Blair as she celebrated the holidays with the Kardashians at their multi-million-dollar home? Was I supposed to be inspired because she had beautiful, professional pictures taken with a cane? Well, I wasn’t. I get it, she was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and that sucks. A lot of people have been recently diagnosed with diseases, she’s not special. I was diagnosed with MS nearly 20 years ago, I’m not special.

Being diagnosed with a chronic disease is a major life changing event for everyone, regardless of your financial or celebrity status. When I see media outlets create a news story about a celebrity diagnosis my eyes roll so far back in my head I can see the MS lesions on my brain.

The Women’s Health article on Selma Blair and her MS story was personal to me. First, most people with MS do not use a cane. The phrase “often need to use a cane”, that is used in the article, is inaccurate and only helps to perpetuate the stigma of MS, which many of us non-celebrities work to overcome every day in the workplace and in social settings. I really wish the author did a little more research on the disease.

As my title suggests, I am really not interested in the trials and tribulations of a celebrity with MS. On my best day I will never be spending my holidays at a multi-million-dollar home just relaxing in the sun. My reality is best characterized as average. Don’t get me wrong, I am very content with my life but I do not have anything in excess, well except for maybe running shoes. But I would argue that is a survival necessity for me. Right?

Seriously though, there is a financial burden to having a chronic disease, such as MS, that someone with celebrity status is unlikely to relate to or even view as a burden. I have pretty decent healthcare insurance but if I want to explore unconventional therapies, such as acupuncture or massage therapy, or consult with a homeopathic doctor, I have to take a good hard look at my budget. The “unconventional” stuff is not covered under my insurance. Truth be told, there have been therapies I’ve wanted to try but chose not to due to costs or sometimes due to my work schedule. If money was not an object to me, I would certainly choose to invest more into my disease management. Sadly, I sometimes find myself wondering if I would feel better if I had more money to spend. But like most people, I do my best to find a balance.

Even thinking back to my initial diagnosis, I was stressed just trying to find the right doctor for me. When one is diagnosed with a chronic disease, the biggest priorities is finding a doctor that you can trust, that can provide you with the best care, and is going to be accessible to you over the long-term. It can take some time to find the right doctor for you. It took me about eight months. When I moved to a new city it took over a year. The main reason it took so long was the wait time to get an appointment. After being diagnosed with MS, I was no longer considered an emergency so I needed to wait for a “routine check-up” appointment which took months, meaning I had months to sit around and feel uneasy about my disease. While I cannot speak first hand, I doubt celebrities like Selma Blair have to wait months to see the doctor of their choice. 

So, it is disappointing to see media outlets, such as Women’s Health, focus on celebrities and their struggles with chronic diseases, or even their triumphs at the gym. I bet it is easy to exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet when you have the financial resources to hire people to help you. Similarly with chronic diseases, I have no doubt I would be able to better manage my MS if money was not an object and dropping my name meant something. But like most of us, I live in reality as a mere mortal with no celebrity status. Maybe one day a media outlet like Women’s Health will find that newsworthy.

Until then follow me as I #OutRunMS.

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