Television Personality Montel Williams: Multiple Sclerosis and the Talk Show Host

Montel Williams is an award-winning, provocative TV personality and talk show host. Before he found fame, he also served for over two decades as an intelligence officer in the Navy. But that isn’t what makes his life so extraordinary.

In 1999, doctors gave a diagnosis that shook the world of Montel Williams. Multiple sclerosis affects nearly 1 million people in the United States. But that isn’t what makes Williams’ story so different.

You can get multiple sclerosis at any time in your life. However, Montel Williams was living with the disease for two decades before he received a formal diagnosis. Keep reading to find out his amazing story, as well as an overview of the disease.

What Is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis or MS is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. A protective sheath, called myelin, covers the nerve fibers. But for people who have MS, their own immune system attacks their myelin.

This can lead to a breakdown in communication between the rest of your body and your brain. And over time, MS can eventually cause permanent damage to the nerves themselves.

Signs and Symptoms of MS

How can you tell if you have MS? Unfortunately, the symptoms and signs vary from person to person. And it may depend on how much nerve damage a person’s sustained when they see a doctor. Some common symptoms an MS patient may exhibit are:

  • Numbness through the limbs, one side of the body at a time
  • Extended double vision
  • Losing some or all vision, one eye at a time
  • Pain or tingling in different parts of the body
  • Unsteady gait, lack of coordination, tremors
  • Electric shock sensations when moving the neck in certain ways
  • Tiredness
  • Slurred speech
  • Bladder and bowel function problems
  • Dizziness

Many people have a relapse-remit course of the MS disease. That means some patients may have symptoms for days or weeks. But the symptoms may improve or go away completely for months or years. This is called secondary-progressive MS.

Other patients, however, experience a gradual and steady onset of MS symptoms with no relapses. This type of MS is called primary-progressive MS.

Risk Factors

Anyone can get multiple sclerosis, but there are certain risk factors that may increase your chances. They include:

  • Age

MS is commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 15 and 60.

  • Family history

Like many diseases, having a history of it increases the likelihood that you may develop it as well. It’s not inherited, but some believe there may be a genetic link to MS.

  • Gender

Women are more likely than men to get MS.

  • Race

People of Northern European descent are the most likely to get MS, while Asians, Africans, and Native Americans are the least likely.

  • Existing autoimmune diseases

You may be at a higher risk of developing MS if you already have certain diseases like Type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease, or inflammatory bowel disease.

  • Climate

MS diagnoses are more likely if you reside in a place with temperate climates. That may include Canada, New Zealand, southeastern Australia, northern United States, and Europe.

  • Smoking

If you smoke, you are at higher risks of developing relapse-remitting MS.

In addition, there are no exact MS tests that your doctor can give you to diagnose the disease. Instead, they may take your history and perform a series of tests including blood tests, spinal fluid analysis, MRI, and evoked potentials like an EEG.

Treatments and Prognosis for MS

There is no cure for multiple sclerosis, but there are certain steps you can take to keep the symptoms at bay. Most treatments focus on slowing the progression of the disease as well as lessening the frequency of relapses.

Unfortunately, the exact cause is still unknown. So there are no preventative measures you can take to lessen your risks of getting MS. However, there are plenty of people with multiple sclerosis who continue to live rich, fulfilling lives without relapses.

The Trials of Montel Williams – Multiple Sclerosis Can’t Keep a Good Man Down

Montel Williams began having symptoms of MS in 1980 when he was just 22 years old. He had vision problems that the doctor didn’t associate with MS symptoms because back then, the common belief was that MS primarily affected Caucasian women.

He continued to exhibit symptoms on and off through his life. But it wasn’t until 1999 when the popular TV personality began exhibiting serious symptoms that he was finally diagnosed with MS. Did this life-changing diagnosis slow down Montel Williams? After a few months of despondency, he decided that the disease wasn’t getting the better of him.

Williams went public with the disease in the same year he was diagnosed. And he went on to establish the Montel Williams MS Foundation to raise money for more research into the disease.

Furthermore, he also released a couple of books that go further into his battle with MS. One also has diet and exercise tips that promote better health despite living with an incurable disease. The book called Living Well: 21 Days to Transform Your Life, Supercharge Your Health, and Feel Spectacular enjoyed a resurgence of popularity with a reprinting in 2008.

In addition, Montel Williams is a huge advocate for medical cannabis to manage MS symptoms. He worked on campaigns that helped pass legislation on medical marijuana in New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.

In 2016, he started LenitivLabs, a medical cannabis-related company. And later in that same year, LenitivLabs teamed up with BAS Research to become the first licensed medicinal marijuana company in California that is primarily focused on research and manufacturing.

Final Thought

Can you keep a good man down? Not actor, motivational speaker, author, and philanthropist Montel Williams. Multiple sclerosis may have taken a toll on his body, but his positive attitude has inspired others with the disease.

Lastly, there’s no cure for this disease. And experts aren’t even sure what exactly causes it. But on-going research into MS may eventually yield answers. So, in the meantime, if you do have MS, take a page out of Montel Williams’ book and just take it one day at a time.