Jack Osbourne Says This Is The Biggest Misconception About MS
The reality star says he hears this one thing all the time.
As a teen, Jack Osbourne became a household name thanks to his family's reality TV show, The Osbournes. The son of heavy metal legend Ozzy Osbourne and TV personality Sharon Osbourne, the young star has gone on to carve out his own career in entertainment, most recently hosting the reality series Portals to Hell, and appearing on Ozzy & Jack's World Detour. However, in 2012, just weeks after welcoming his first child, the star's personal life was shaken up by a shocking diagnosis.
After experiencing pain and numbness in his leg and developing vision loss in one eye, he learned that he had multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease that attacks the nervous system. Since then, Osbourne has added "health advocate" to his list of achievements, having launched a web series called You Don't Know Jack About MS with the aim of dispelling myths about the illness. Read on to learn what the star says is the biggest misconception about MS, and to hear his advice for those newly diagnosed with the illness.
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Osbourne says that MS is different for each person who is diagnosed with it.
When Osbourne learned that he had MS, his first reaction was of disbelief and confusion. "First of all I didn't really know what the disease was, I didn't know what it affected in the body," he said in a 2014 interview. "I had heard of MS, I was aware that it could lead to disability and even death in some cases, but I had no idea what it was all about, so there was a lot of fear of the unknown. I had a 'why me?' pity party moment, but I snapped out of it pretty quickly because I had a newborn daughter," he recalled.
As he delved deeper into learning about his condition and compared popular wisdom with his own experience, he quickly learned that MS is an often misunderstood disease. In starting his own campaign about MS—which included a documentary series about his own experience—he hoped to begin a new conversation about multiple sclerosis that could help patients navigate their disease and dispel the myths that surround it.
That's exactly why Osbourne is often asked to talk about the biggest misconceptions he's come across in his health advocacy work. In response, the actor has shared that while MS is treated as a monolithic illness with one predetermined prognosis for all, in reality, "the list of symptoms with multiple sclerosis is long and varied, and unique to everyone who has it." He adds: "I like to say it's as unique to an individual as their own fingerprint."
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Another misconception is that those with MS aren't able-bodied, he says.
Another common misconception the star shared is that those with MS are "no longer able-bodied—that you can't function the same as everyone else." He says he often encounters the myth that those with MS "need assistance to either walk or just function in your day to day life," and adds, "that's just not the case anymore."
Osbourne notes that some individuals with more severe types of MS are affected more rapidly than others. However, he emphasizes that relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) is the most common form of MS , "and is also the most manageable."
In fact, those with RRMS typically have many "good days" between flare ups, having few or no symptoms at all. "Relapsing-remitting MS is defined by inflammatory attacks on myelin (the layers of insulating membranes surrounding nerve fibers in the central nervous system (CNS), as well as the nerve fibers themselves," explains the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. "During these inflammatory attacks, activated immune cells cause small, localized areas of damage which produce the symptoms of MS." To Osbourne's previous point, the organization adds, "Because the location of the damage is so variable, no two people have exactly the same symptoms."
Talking to people with MS can help dispel these myths.
While the internet can provide access to a wealth of information, Osbourne urges those who are newly diagnosed with MS to join a real community of people with the same condition if possible. "Get off the internet—that's my first advice—and go talk to someone who has MS [in person]," he said. "Have that one-on-one and communicate. Find out as much as you can from firsthand accounts."
Osbourne adds that it is through these conversations that people often learn just how different one MS patient's experience can be from the next. He says that recognizing this has helped him take life one day at a time. "I just try and focus on what's right in front of me," he told Variety in 2021, referencing both his sobriety and his MS.
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Exploring treatment options is essential, the actor says.
Finally, Osbourne says that one thing that everyone with MS should do is explore treatment options sooner rather than later. While there is no cure for MS, he says many people don't realize that medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle interventions can significantly boost your quality of life, slow the progression of the disease, and help you recover from attacks more quickly.
"Get on a treatment as quickly as possible, if that's the decision you make," Osborne says. "Ten years ago there was no treatment on the market and now there's close to a dozen, and so there are a lot of options available."
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