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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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    Hey everyone,

    One of the great things about having a blog is being able to write out what I’m feeling or thinking without having a camera on me.

    Having a camera on you when you’re about to let someone in on a secret or something personal is pretty terrifying. It’s one thing to do a weather forecast, joke around with the anchors or do a silly dance when the moment is right (and you know how I love to bust a move! HA!) It’s another to go on camera and let the world see a piece of your real-life. I’ve always been a fairly open person on television when the opportunity presented itself. (You may have seen pictures of my wedding, honeymoon, and a makeup free, soapy, wet- bathtub head picture up for all the world to see on TV), but why do I do this? Because I’m a real person that for a minute or two wants people to know what I look like without all the fancy lights, hair product and spackle.

    Having said that, I also think it is important being a broadcaster to be able to use the bright lights, the microphone and the written word to communicate and lead by example. I find nowadays, there hasn’t been enough of that. Media has (lately) been used to show the mean and sad side of the world today. The focus has shifted to celebrities-gone-wild, and their downward spiral to presidential candidates who will do or say anything to make themselves look better than their running mates. It’s depressing, and maybe one of the things that has motivated me to do better. Luckily, some of us can still use those bright lights, a microphone and my laptop for a better purpose.

    So here it is – no fancy lights or flashy graphics: I have Multiple Sclerosis.

    I join about 400,000 Americans that are diagnosed with this strange and scary disease every year (the MS Society says a person is diagnosed once every hour). I have been pretty open around family and friends about this since I first became aware of it 2-1/2 years ago, but I was always a fearful to let anyone else in on my deep, dark secret. You can imagine why this might terrify me to go public because of the stigma it carries and the uncertainty of how this disease may affect me in the future. It was much easier just being called “Janice Dean the Weather Machine” instead of possibly “the lady that has MS”

    But I’m fine with that now. Instead of remaining silent, I would like to be a voice for those who don’t have one. Maybe even give someone hope that they too can have this disease and still fulfill their dreams.

    So what the heck is MS anyway? Here’s the definition from the MS Society website, which has all sorts of great information:

    MS is thought to be an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS consists of the brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerves. Surrounding and protecting the nerve fibers of the CNS is a fatty tissue called myelin, which helps nerve fibers conduct electrical impulses. In MS, myelin is lost in multiple areas, leaving scar tissue called sclerosis. These damaged areas are also known as plaques or lesions. Sometimes the nerve fiber itself is damaged or broken.Myelin not only protects nerve fibers, but makes their job possible. When myelin or the nerve fiber is destroyed or damaged, the ability of the nerves to conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain is disrupted, and this produces the various symptoms of MS.

    So how did I find out I had this disease? I’m sure I’ve had it for years as I look back at some of the weird symptoms I’ve had but ignored over the last few years, but the one big red flag was the one morning I woke up and realized I couldn’t feel the bottoms of my feet! After several tests, it was obvious to the doctors what I had.

    Luckily, there are many MS trail-blazers before me that have spoken up and lead by example. My dear friend Neil Cavuto who held my hand and let me cry on his shoulder two years ago, kept telling me I would get through it and it might even make me stronger. He was right.

    Here is a link a link to Neil’s story on the MS Society website:

    http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/PageServer?pagename=HOM_LIVE_neil_cavuto

    When I was first “diagnosed”, all I wanted to do was find people who had the illness and be able to talk to them and see how they were doing. I also picked up as many books as I could find by people I recognized. Richard Cohen, an award winning journalist and author, is a huge advocate of people with MS and chronic illnesses. He has spent much of his life speaking out and putting a “face on disease” that we are so scared to look at. The day I met Richard I felt that I was meeting a rock star. He has no idea how much book comforted me and kept me company when I felt so alone. You do not need an illness to be inspired by his books Blindsided and his latest, Strong at the Broken Places. He opened up his life to me, and told me if I ever needed to call him “just to talk” he was there for me. I adore that man.

    Here is a link to Richard’s bio:
    http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/PageServer?pagename=HOM_LIVE_richard_cohen

    Teri Garr, the Oscar-nominated actress, is another famous person that has gone public with her MS. She was featured in my MS Awareness Week report that aired on Fox & Friends and the Fox Report this Sunday. I dove into her book Speedbumps to find out how she was diagnosed and how she managed, especially in a world like Hollywood where people are so concerned with outer beauty and being perfect. I think she is incredibly brave for telling her story and helping others. And I think she is more gorgeous for showing her true self for the world to see and inspire others.

    This is her bio on the MS Society website:

    http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/PageServer?pagename=HOM_LIVE_spotlight_garr

    After reading countless books and articles, and talking to many people, including Neil, Teri and Richard, I have decided it’s time to join those in the public forum who wish to educate, and make more aware, with this disease that affects so many people. I also want to stress that we can survive, even thrive, with this illness.

    MS Society website:

    http://www.nationalmssociety.org/index.aspx

    If you or someone you know struggles with this illness, please know that you are not alone. As one of my heros Richard Cohen says “I know the journey”.

    Love,
    Janice

about this blog

  • Janice Dean joined FOX News Channel in January 2004 and currently serves as Senior meteorologist. She is a member of the American Meteorological Society and was awarded the AMS Seal of Approval in 2009. Dean is the author of the forthcoming children's book, "Freddy the Frogcaster" (Regnery Kids) which will be published in August. You can also follow Janice on Twitter.