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

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  • My Story: Living with MS

    Hi everyone!

    It’s been awhile since I talked about my diagnosis of MS back in 2005 (and when I shared it here on the blog back in 2007)  I wrote an Op Ed piece for Foxnews.com, and wanted to share it with you guys…my blog family.  Thank YOU all for being so supportive, kind and encouraging.  I do feel like you are part of my family here at Fox…

    I had my first Multiple Sclerosis (MS) episode in 2005 (the formal diagnosis would come later). Naturally, I remember it well: we had just come off the most active hurricane season in history.   It was the year of Hurricanes Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Rita and Wilma. We had so many storms, the National Hurricane Center went to the Greek alphabet because we had run out of names.

    I was working long hours that fall and was feeling overwhelmingly tired, stressed and depressed from all the devastation we were seeing on television.  Little did I know that as I was warning people of the next hurricane, my body was dealing with its own neurological storm, one that had been forming for years.

    I took time off and decided to go back to Canada for a week with my boyfriend Sean. The first day of my vacation I woke up to numbness in my feet and parts of my legs. I felt like I couldn’t get out of bed.  I had no idea what was wrong.  

    I went to a doctor in my hometown to see if she could figure it out.  She was blunt and honest.  “This could be anything from a slipped disc to multiple sclerosis. You should get back to the U.S. to see a neurologist.”

    I thought she was crazy.  MS?  Isn’t that the wheelchair disease?  I took her advice, though. When I got back to New York I went to a neurologist who gave me MRIs and a most unpleasant spinal tap.  

    I remember calling Sean in tears and telling him that he needed to pick me up at the doctor’s office; the news was not good. 

    I had lesions on both my brain and spine. The spinal tap fluid had also shown the protein they look for in MS patients. 

    He gave me steroids to help with the numbness and tingling and told me I more than likely had multiple sclerosis:  an unpredictable, chronic, incurable and possibly disabling disease of the central nervous system that interrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and the body.  

    I was at an age when most women who have the disease have already been diagnosed. How I got it was a mystery, and still is – though having lived in Canada (northern countries show a higher frequency of MS, likely due to less sunlight) and the fact that my father had suffered with acute rheumatoid arthritis may have both been factors.

    After days of feeling sorry for myself, I decided I had to find people to talk to.  Luckily, I knew  someone at work who also had MS:  Neil Cavuto. The Fox News and Fox Business senior vice president, anchor and managing editor had gone public with his illness (along with having suffered from cancer). 

    He told me to come talk with him right away.  

    I remember he kept a stream of tissues in motion, consoling me while I just cried and told him all my fears.  What would happen to my career?  My personal life?  My self-esteem?

    Neil calmed me down, promised me I was going to be OK and reminded me that I was working at a great company that would support us, even if that support included building wheelchair ramps. 

    I’ll never forget that day, and what Neil did for me.

    Afterward, I tried to find more people to talk to who were living with MS.  It was the one thing that kept me going – seeing others who were not just functioning, thriving. 

    In 2007, now formally diagnosed after a few relatively mild exacerbations, I decided that I would talk about my diagnosis in order to help others like me who had the disease.  It’s never been my goal to be the poster girl for MS, but I do feel called to be someone who can help others identify, and  live with, the disease.

    Fast forward to now. I’m happily married (to the same boyfriend who was with me during my first flare-up and diagnosis) and have two beautiful boys. I’ve been working full-time at the same company for over a decade and I’m the author of a children’s book series about a frog who is a weather forecaster. 

    I’m not lying to you when I say I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I believe part of the reason I am so happy is that I learned almost 10 years ago that your life can change in an instant. 

    Yes, I live with MS.  And yes, I’ve been very lucky to have very few flare-ups since that diagnosis. There are ongoing reminders that my immune system isn’t the greatest, and I do know that this illness remains unpredictable (much like the weather I forecast) and can strike when you least expect it.  

    I don’t want people to feel sorry for me – this is bigger than me. If I can put a face on an illness that can help others who are diagnosed, then my openness to discuss this is all worthwhile.

    But there is also bigger hope on the horizon for the 2 million of us who live with this disease.  The medications are getting better and less intrusive.  The fact that there are now oral treatments available is a huge step forward.  For many of us, the painful injections are a constant reminder that there is something wrong with us.

    I think we’re getting closer to stopping the disease in its tracks. I do believe there will be a day soon when having MS will no longer be associated with wheelchairs.

    This weekend I will be the emcee for this year’s “MS Climb to the Top” event for The New York City – Southern New York Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Over a thousand people will participate, climbing 66 flights of stairs to from the ground floor the Rockefeller Center observation deck.  

    It’s a fitting event where people from all walks of life will take part to raise funds and awareness for those of us who live with MS. The climbing can be tough at times, but with support from others, we’ll get there.  And when we do, we’ll be stronger in ways that we never imagined.

    Editor’s note:  The MS Climb to the Top will take place on Sunday, March 2, 2014 at 6 am ET at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. It will be hosted by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) and premier sponsor Biogen Idec. To register or learn more, visit www.climbMSnyc.org.

Margie Gacki

Hey Janice, thanks for sharing your story again. From the comments posted, it looks like you've encouraged many people. I hope the Climb to the Top is a big success this weekend. I'm glad you shared your story back in 2007. It was after that story that I became one of your blogging family. I pray that you continue doing well. You have been blessed with a great husband and 2 precious little men. May God bless all of you. Margie

February 27, 2014 at 10:44 am

Robert Morgan

You are sweet. But you could REALLY help the cause if you would use your celebrity to help people understand what a devastating disease MS is. I have a similar history and could have been on the cover of mags for persevering & winning 3 ntl titles in racquetball. That cover would have been a disservice to the really sick. My MS became aggressive and ruined my life.I am not alone, & we need help in a real war w/FDA for rejecting a real hope called lemtrada apprvd in 30 cntrys.God bless you!

February 26, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Holly Stanbrough

There is several ways I could describe myself - Mother – Sister – Career Woman – Published Author –Pro Bodybuilder – Fitness Model BUT the one that describes me PERFECTLY with the MOST honors is, I’m a SURVIVOR ~ Living with a chronic illness gives a new meaning of life to me Oct 21st 2002 is a day I will NEVER forget > I was dx with MS- once FEAR now seen as a blessing . 11 years ago, I questioned my future - my ability to walk –talk and see, each time I step up on stage, it become. thx you

February 26, 2014 at 11:33 am

Adam

I was diagnosed in 2004 (28yrs old). Watching Neil on FOX gave me the courage I needed to get through the hardest part (first finding out). My advice: Eat healthy, stay active, manage stress, take the meds and get plenty of sun, vitamin D and Omega 3... everything's going to be fine!

February 26, 2014 at 12:15 am

JB in Texas

JD, Just as Neil Cavuto was a great help and inspiration to you, you have been the same to many of your fans. My wife was diagnosed with MS about 4 years ago and I am always mentioning your spirit and remarkable attitude as an example for her. I am sure she is not alone. Thank you and bless you! May the charity climb be an extraordinary success. JB

February 25, 2014 at 11:52 pm

Mike Perelman

I am a 56 year old cardiothoracic surgeon diagnosed16 years ago after an episode of optic neuritis. I have been on Betaseron since and it has been 10 years plus without a relapse. Sunlight exposure seems to be related and there is likely benefit from taking vitamin D and statins. Fear is the big problem with this disease or more likely cluster of disease known as MS. My MD said to me that sucks but it isn't going to kill you. Having a good optimistic MD makes all the difference. Good luck.

February 25, 2014 at 11:23 pm

wasam

We used to have a huge hardware, used tool and anything else store here that I could find most of the odd stuff I bought. The owner, Laura, had MS. Over the years she eventually ended up wheelchair bound but still knew where everything in the store was. Wonderful person and when they finally closed the store she called and told me to come down and take first dibs on what I could use. A real jewel!!

February 25, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Bernie Bunny, Hamburg, NY

Janice, Your spirit is terrific. The wife of one of my Navy friends (we both deployed to the WTC in Oct 2001) has MS, as well, and she has the same joie de vivre as you. In this world full of whiners you are an inspiration. Very Respectfully, CWO4 Bernard M. Bunny, CEC, USN (Retired).

February 25, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Vicki Duax

Janice- It's so great that you spoke out about this! My sister in law has MS and I have Lupus, and we spend lots of time swapping stories of all our weird symptoms, aches, pains, and flares! It's nice to know that even when I'm laid up on the couch with a stupid old flare up...I can see you on the tv screen smiling....great reminder that a flare is temporary and no matter what I'll get back on my feet and carry on!

February 25, 2014 at 7:46 pm

R. Murphy

You are one classy lady. I don't feel sorry for you, I admire your strength and courage. I wish you and your family all good things. I do miss your dancing.

February 25, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Donn Trautner

Wow! What an amazing story. Thanks for sharing and I thank God for Neil's support and pray for your continuing health.

February 25, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Kathy Dunn

Bless her heart. God bless Neil and this beautiful and STRONG woman!

February 25, 2014 at 5:57 pm

tinkerthinker

A Very nice article. Thank you for sharing and caring for others.

February 25, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Vicki Henson

Thank you for sharing. Very inspiring. Another reason to like Fox News and all that are there. Don't worry. You can't help what is coming with the weather! Only God in Heaven controls that.

February 25, 2014 at 5:36 pm

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.