Celebrity & MS: Jamie-Lynn Sigler

Jamie-Lynn Sigler, actress, mother and wife, and person living with multiple sclerosis, gave her first live television interview about MS with Matt Lauer on the Today Show. I have to say I was concerned as to what she might have to say after hearing the promotional chatter about her ‘battle with MS.’ We’ve seen what happens when a celebrity personality publicly talks about MS and how the headlines go for the most sensational aspects of the story. I am happy to report that after watching this interview I feel like we all have a new friend in Jamie-Lynn.

So much of what she calmly talked about with Matt resonated with me and I’m pretty sure you might identify with much and all of what she had to say. She was diagnosed 15 years ago but has kept it private all these years. When she was originally diagnosed she was advised by a person in the industry to never talk about having MS because it would negatively affect her career and people would be judgmental of her abilities. She heeded that advice and kept it private, with only her family and eventually a few close friends and fellow cast members of The Sopranos knowing she has this chronic disease.

Jamie-Lynn talked about the symptoms that are now limiting her life – slower reaction times, balance problems that keep her from wearing high heels which may sound trivial to many of us but are an essential wardrobe item in Hollywood, and the fatigue that can strike her and impact her stamina on long shoots. She even pointed out that she can no longer run, which is one of the things I miss as well.

So why did she decide to talk about this now? She says it is her young son and she didn’t want him living with the pressure of a mom with MS and not being able to talk about it. She also told Matt that she now feels relief about being able to talk about having multiple sclerosis.

Jamie-Lynn said she has felt a tremendous sense of guilt and the loss of control by living with MS has worn on her. It sounds like she had an extended period of remission and then stress impacted her and brought on the symptoms that continue for her such as the heaviness and numbness in her legs.

Something else she talked about was the sense of responsibility she now feels toward the MS community and is overwhelmed with the support she has received from people who have reached out to her, particularly about having this disease but remaining in silence. I have no idea what plans are in the future for Jamie-Lynn Sigler and her new role as a celebrity face of MS, but I am so pleased to know she has approached this intelligently and removed the usual media excitement surrounding this type of announcement. Yes, the headlines written by others will still make this out to be an extraordinary burden for her, but she went out of her way to acknowledge that so many others also live with the various forms of multiple sclerosis and quietly go about their lives without the support she has gathered.

Whatever her next role, I can tell you I am now a fan.

Wishing you well,


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